Sunday, January 24, 2010

Authors Guild embraces populism, uses John Steinbeck, Woody Guthrie to sell settlement

In a sign of how desperate the Authors Guild is to convince its dwindling base of 8,000 members and tens of thousands of non-member writers that the proposed Google Books Search settlement is in their best interest, the high-brow New York literary organization has embraced two populist American icons. On Thursday, the Guild sent an email to its membership trumpeting the news that the estates of author John Steinbeck and songwriter Woody Guthrie, which vociferously opposed the proposed settlement just months ago, now support the initiative. The email contained a lengthy letter from Gail Steinbeck, daughter-in-law of the author, who, not coincidently, praised the Guild. Given John Steinbeck and Woody Guthrie’s political views and the themes portrayed in their major works, one wonders how they would feel about being reduced to commercial fodder by the Authors Guild and their heirs.

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