Category Archives: Events

Join for the Launch of our Latest Legal Guide: Writing About Real People

Register here to join us on December 7, 2023 at 1pm ET/ 10am PT for the launch of our latest legal guide “Writing about Real People.”

Writing about real people can raise a number of complicated legal issues for authors. Laws governing defamation, privacy, and rights of publicity have a number of fact-specific rules,  exceptions, and exceptions to exceptions that can be difficult to navigate without help. We’ve found that these issues can be an obstacle to creation for all types of authors, from bloggers to narrative nonfiction authors to historians, cultural anthropologists, and other scholarly authors. 

As part of our highly used series of guides on legal issues for authors, Authors Alliance has created a guide to writing about real people for nonfiction authors. This latest guide covers three main legal issues: false statements and portrayals (e.g., defamation), invasions of privacy, and rights of publicity and identity rights. The guide includes substantial practical guidance, addressing issues such as permission, documenting your research and working with an IRB.

Join us on December 7 to learn more about the guide and what it covers, how you might use it in your work, about plans we have for accompanying materials we will release in the near future, such as one-page summaries for quick reference.

Book Talk: The Internet Con by Cory Doctorow

Posted October 25, 2023

Join us for a virtual book talk with author Cory Doctorow about THE INTERNET CON, the disassembly manual we need to take back our internet.


When the tech platforms promised a future of “connection,” they were lying. They said their “walled gardens” would keep us safe, but those were prison walls.

The platforms locked us into their systems and made us easy pickings, ripe for extraction. Twitter, Facebook and other Big Tech platforms hard to leave by design. They hold hostage the people we love, the communities that matter to us, the audiences and customers we rely on. The impossibility of staying connected to these people after you delete your account has nothing to do with technological limitations: it’s a business strategy in service to commodifying your personal life and relationships.

We can – we must – dismantle the tech platforms. In The Internet Con, Cory Doctorow explains how to seize the means of computation, by forcing Silicon Valley to do the thing it fears most: interoperate. Interoperability will tear down the walls between technologies, allowing users leave platforms, remix their media, and reconfigure their devices without corporate permission.

Interoperability is the only route to the rapid and enduring annihilation of the platforms. The Internet Con is the disassembly manual we need to take back our internet.


CORY DOCTOROW is a science fiction author, activist and journalist. He is the author of many books, most recently RADICALIZED and WALKAWAY, science fiction for adults; HOW TO DESTROY SURVEILLANCE CAPITALISM, nonfiction about monopoly and conspiracy; IN REAL LIFE, a graphic novel; and the picture book POESY THE MONSTER SLAYER. His latest book is ATTACK SURFACE, a standalone adult sequel to LITTLE BROTHER. In 2020, he was inducted into the Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame. He works for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, is a MIT Media Lab Research Affiliate, is a Visiting Professor of Computer Science at Open University, a Visiting Professor of Practice at the University of North Carolina’s School of Library and Information Science and co-founded the UK Open Rights Group.

Book Talk: The Internet Con by Cory Doctorow
Tuesday, October 31 @ 10am PT / 1pm ET
Register now for the virtual discussion!

Book Talk: Against Progress by Jessica Silbey

Posted May 8, 2023

Join journalist MARIA BUSTILLOS for a virtual book talk with author & professor of law JESSICA SILBEY for her latest book, AGAINST PROGRESS.


When first written into the Constitution, intellectual property aimed to facilitate “progress of science and the useful arts” by granting rights to authors and inventors. Today, when rapid technological evolution accompanies growing wealth inequality and political and social divisiveness, the constitutional goal of “progress” may pertain to more basic, human values, redirecting IP’s emphasis to the commonweal instead of private interests.

Against Progress considers contemporary debates about intellectual property law as concerning the relationship between the constitutional mandate of progress and fundamental values, such as equality, privacy, and distributive justice, that are increasingly challenged in today’s internet age. Following a legal analysis of various intellectual property court cases, Jessica Silbey examines the experiences of everyday creators and innovators navigating ownership, sharing, and sustainability within the internet eco-system and current IP laws. Crucially, the book encourages refiguring the substance of “progress” and the function of intellectual property in terms that demonstrate the urgency of art and science to social justice today.

Purchase Against Progress from Stanford University Press.

JESSICA SILBEY is Professor of Law at the Boston University School of Law. She is the author of Against Progress: Intellectual Property and Fundamental Values in the Internet Age (Stanford, 2022), The Eureka Myth: Creators, Innovators, and Everyday Intellectual Property (Stanford, 2015), and was a Guggenheim Fellow in 2018.

May 9 @ 10am PT / 1pm ET
Register now for the free, virtual event

An Update on our Text and Data Mining: Demonstrating Fair Use Project

Posted April 28, 2023

Back in December we announced a new Authors Alliance’s project, Text and Data Mining: Demonstrating Fair Use, which is about lowering and overcoming legal barriers for researchers who seek to exercise their fair use rights, specifically within the context of text data mining (“TDM”) research under current regulatory exemptions. We’ve heard from lots of you about the need for support in navigating the law in this area. This post gives a few updates. 

Text and Data Mining Workshops and Consultations

We’ve had a tremendous amount of interest and engagement with our offers to hold hands-on workshops and trainings on the scope of legal rights for TDM research. Already this spring, we’ve been able to hold two workshops in the Research Triangle hosted at Duke University, and a third workshop at Stanford followed by a lively lunch-time discussion. We have several more coming. Our next stop is in a few weeks at the University of Michigan, and we have plans in the works for workshops in the Boston area, New York, a few locations on the West Coast, and potentially others as well. If you are interested in attending or hosting a workshop with TDM researchers, librarians, or other research support staff, please let us know! We’d love to hear from you. The feedback so far has been really encouraging, and we have heard both from current TDM researchers and those for whom the workshops have opened their eyes to new possibilities. 

ACH Webinar: Overcoming Legal Barriers to Text and Data Mining
Join us! In addition to the hands-on in-person workshops on university campuses, we’re also offering online webinars on overcoming legal barriers to text and data mining. Our first is hosted by the Association for Computers and the Humanities on May 15 at 10am PT / 1pm ET. All are welcome to attend, and we’d love to see you online!
Read more and register here. 


A second aspect of our project is to research how the current law can both help and hinder TDM researchers, with specific attention to fair use and the DMCA exemption that Authors Alliance obtained for TDM researchers to break digital locks when building a corpus of digital content such as ebooks or DVDs.

Christian Howard-Sukhil, Authors Alliance Text and Data Mining Legal Fellow

To that end, we’re excited to announce that Christian Howard-Sukhil will be joining Authors Alliance as our Text and Data Mining Legal Fellow. Christian holds a PhD in English Language and Literature from the University of Virginia and is currently pursuing a JD from the UC Berkeley School of Law. Christian has extensive digital humanities and text data mining experience, including in previous roles at UVA and Bucknell University. Her work with Authors Alliance will focus on researching and writing about the ways that current law helps or hinders text and data mining researchers in the real world. 

The research portion of this project is focused on the practical implications of the law and will be based heavily on feedback we hear from TDM researchers. We’ve already had the opportunity to gather some feedback from researchers including through the workshops mentioned above, and plan to do more systematic outreach over the coming months. Again, if you’re working in this field (or want to but can’t because of concerns about legal issues), we’d love to hear from you. 

At this stage we want to share some preliminary observations, based on recent research into these issues (supported by the work of several teams of student clinicians) as well as our recent and ongoing work with TDM researchers:

1) Licenses restrictions are a problem. We’ve heard clearly that licenses and terms of use impose a significant barrier to TDM research. While researchers are able to identify uses that would qualify as fair use and also many uses that likely qualify under the DMCA exemption, terms of use accompanying ebook licenses can override both. These terms vary, from very specific prohibitions–e.g., Amazon’s, which says that users “may not attempt to bypass, modify, defeat, or otherwise circumvent any digital rights management system”–to more general prohibitions on uses that go beyond the specific permissions of the license–e.g., Apple’s terms, which state that “No portion of the Content or Services may be transferred or reproduced in any form or by any means, except as expressly permitted.” Even academic licenses, often negotiated by university libraries to have  more favorable terms, can still impose significant restrictions on reuse for TDM purposes. Although we haven’t heard of aggressive enforcement of those terms to restrict academic uses, even the mere existence of those terms can have chilling and negative real world impacts on research using TDM techniques.

The problem of licenses overriding researchers rights under fair use and other parts of copyright law is of course not limited to just inhibiting text and data mining research. We wrote about the issue, and how easy it is to evade fair use, a few months ago, discussing the many ways that restrictive license terms can inhibit normal, everyday uses of works such as criticism, commentary and quotation. We are currently working on a separate paper documenting the scope and extent of “contractual override,” and will be part of a symposium on the subject in May, hosted by the Association of Research Libraries and the American University, Washington College of Law Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property.

2) The TDM exemption is flexible, but local interpretation and support can vary. We’ve heard that the current TDM exemption–allowing researchers to break technological protection measures such as DRM on ebooks and CSS on DVDs–is an important tool to facilitate research on modern digital works. And we believe the terms of that exemption are sufficiently flexible to meet the needs of a variety of research applications (how wide a variety remains to be seen through more research). But local understanding and support for researchers using the exemption can vary. 

For example, the exemption requires that the university that the TDM research is associated with implement “effective security measures” to ensure that the corpus of copyrighted works isn’t used for another purpose. The regulation further explains that in the absence of a standard negotiated with content holders, “effective security measures” means “measures that the institution uses to keep its own highly confidential information secure.” University  IT data security standards don’t always use the same language or define their standard to cover “highly confidential information” and so university IT offices must interpret this language and implement the standard in their own local context. This can create confusion about what precisely universities need to do to secure the TDM corpora. 

Some of these definitional issues are likely growing pains–the exemption is still new and universities need time to understand and implement standards to satisfy its terms in a reasonable way–it will be important to explore further where there is confusion on similar terms and how that might best be resolved. 

3) Collaboration and sharing are important. Text and data mining projects are often conceived of as part of a much larger research agenda, with multiple potential research outputs both from the initial inquiry and follow-up studies with a number of researchers, sometimes from a number of institutions. Fair use clearly allows for collaborative TDM work –e.g., in  Authors Guild v. HathiTrust, a foundational fair use case for TDM research in the US, we observe that the entire structure of HathiTrust is a collective of a number of research institutions with shared digital assets. And likewise, the TDM exemption permits a university to provide access to “researchers affiliated with other institutions of higher education solely for purposes of collaboration or replication of the research.” The collaborative aspect of this work raises some challenging questions, both operationally and conceptually. For example, the exemption for breaking digital locks doesn’t define precisely who qualifies as a researcher who is “affiliated,” leaving open questions for universities implementing the regulation. More conceptually, the issue of research collaboration raises questions about how precisely the TDM purpose must be defined when building a corpora under the existing exemption, for example when researchers collaborate but investigate different research questions over time. Finally, the issue of actually sharing copies of the corpus with researchers at other institutions is important because at least in some cases, local computing power is needed to effectively engage with the data. 

Again, just preliminary research, but some interesting and important questions! If you are working in this area in any capacity, we’d love to talk. The easiest way to reach us is at

Want to Learn More?
This current Authors Alliance project is generously supported by the Mellon Foundation, which has also supported a number of other important text and data mining projects. We’ve been fortunate to be part of a broader network of individuals and organizations devoted to lowering legal barriers for TDM researchers. This includes efforts spearheaded by a team at UC Berkeley to produce the “Legal Literacies for Text Data Mining” and its current project to address cross-border TDM research, as well as efforts from the Global Network on Copyright and User Rights, which has (among other things) led efforts on copyright exceptions for TDM globally.

Book Talk: Digital Copyright with Jessica Litman

Authors Alliance is pleased to announce the next in our joint book talk series with the Internet Archive. Join us as we host Internet Archive’s founder BREWSTER KAHLE in conversation with JESSICA LITMAN to talk about her book, Digital Copyright.

In Digital Copyright (read now), law professor Jessica Litman questions whether copyright laws crafted by lawyers and their lobbyists really make sense for the vast majority of us. Should every interaction between ordinary consumers and copyright-protected works be restricted by law? Is it practical to enforce such laws, or expect consumers to obey them? What are the effects of such laws on the exchange of information in a free society?


Read Digital Copyright now.

PROFESSOR JESSICA LITMAN, the John F. Nickoll Professor of Law, is the author of Digital Copyright and the co-author, with Jane Ginsburg and Mary Lou Kevlin, of the casebook Trademarks and Unfair Competition Law: Cases and Materials.

BREWSTER KAHLE, founder and digital librarian of the Internet Archive, has been working to provide universal access to all knowledge for more than 25 years.

Book Talk: Digital Copyright
April 20, 2023 @ 10am PT / 1pm ET
Register now for the free, virtual discussion

Book Talk: Athena Unbound by Peter Baldwin, Moderated by Chris Bourg

Posted March 3, 2023

“In Athena Unbound, Peter Baldwin offers an admirably pragmatic yet principled approach to the perennial problem of encouraging both the production and distribution of knowledge.” – Paul Romer, Nobel Laureate and University Professor, NYU

Book Talk: Athena Unbound
March 28 @ 10am PT / 1pm ET
Register now for the virtual event

Read or purchase Athena Unbound from MIT Press. (Pub date: March 28, 2023)

Open access (OA) could one day put the sum of human knowledge at our fingertips. But the goal of allowing everyone to read everything faces fierce resistance. In Athena Unbound, Peter Baldwin offers an up-to-date look at the ideals and history behind OA, and unpacks the controversies that arise when the dream of limitless information slams into entrenched interests in favor of the status quo. In addition to providing a clear analysis of the debates, Baldwin focuses on thorny issues such as copyright and ways to pay for “free” knowledge. He also provides a roadmap that would make OA economically viable and, as a result, advance one of humanity’s age-old ambitions.

Baldwin addresses the arguments in terms of disseminating scientific research, the history of intellectual property and copyright, and the development of the university and research establishment. As he notes, the hard sciences have already created a funding model that increasingly provides open access, but at the cost of crowding out the humanities. Baldwin proposes a new system that would shift costs from consumers to producers and free scholarly knowledge from the paywalls and institutional barriers that keep it from much of the world.


Rich in detail and free of jargon, Athena Unbound is an essential primer on the state of the global open access movement.

About our speakers

PETER BALDWIN is Professor of History at UCLA, and Global Distinguished Professor at NYU. His recent books are Command and Persuade: Crime, Law, and the State across History (MIT Press); Fighting the First Wave: Why the Coronavirus Was Tackled So Differently across the Globe; and The Copyright Wars: Three Centuries of Trans-Atlantic Battle. He serves on the boards of the New York Public Library, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Wikimedia Endowment, the Central European University, the Danish Institute of Advanced Studies, and as chair of the Board of the Center for Jewish History. His journalistic writings have appeared in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, CNN, Newsweek, New Republic, Huffington Post, Der Spiegel, Berliner Zeitung, Publishers Weekly, American Interest, Chronicle of Higher Education, Prospect, American Interest, and Zocalo Public Square.

CHRIS BOURG is the Director of Libraries at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where she also has oversight of the MIT Press. She is also the founding director of the Center for Research on Equitable and Open Scholarship (CREOS). Prior to assuming her role at MIT, Chris worked for 12 years in the Stanford University Libraries. Before Stanford, she spent 10 years as an active-duty U.S. Army officer, including three years on the faculty at the United States Military Academy at West Point. She received her BA from Duke University, her MA from the University of Maryland, and her MA and Ph.D. in sociology from Stanford.

Book Talk: Athena Unbound
March 28 @ 10am PT / 1pm ET
Register now for the virtual event

Book Talk: History, Disrupted

Posted February 7, 2023

Join journalist CLAIRE WOODCOCK and author JASON STEINHAUER for a discussion about how social media & the web have changed the past.


The Internet has changed the past. Social media, Wikipedia, mobile networks, and the viral and visual nature of the Web have filled the public sphere with historical information and misinformation, changing what we know about our history. This is the first book to chronicle how and why it matters.

Purchase History, Disrupted from Better World Books.

From Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to artificial intelligence, machine learning and algorithms, history has been widely communicated and fiercely contested across the social Web as battles over the 1619 Project, the Trump presidency, Confederate monuments and history textbooks have exploded into public view. How does history intersect with today’s most pressing debates? How does history contribute to online debates about misinformation, disinformation, journalism, tribalism, activism, democracy, politics and identity?

In the midst of growing political division around the world, this information is critical to an engaged citizenry. As we collectively grapple with the effects of technology and its capacity to destabilize our societies, scholars, educators and the general public should be aware of how the Web and social media shape what we know about ourselves – and crucially, about our past.


JASON STEINHAUER is a Global Fellow at the Wilson Center in the USA. He is the founder and host of History Club on Clubhouse with more than 100,000 followers, and was the Founding Director of the Lepage Center for History in the Public Interest at Villanova University, USA, from 2017 – 2020.  A public historian with over twenty years of experience in major cultural and historical institutions in the US, Steinhauer is the Founder of the History Communication Institute and the creator of the field of History Communication, which examines how history gets communicated on the World Wide Web. He has written for CNN, TIME, The Washington Post, Poynter, Inside Higher Ed, the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Foreign Policy Research Institute (where he is a Senior Fellow). He has also delivered lectures overseas on behalf of the US Department of State, created a history podcast for the John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress, and appeared on C-SPAN’s American History TV.

CLAIRE WOODCOCK is an independent journalist based in Colorado. Her work has appeared in Motherboard Vice, NPR, Literary Hub, Aspen Public Radio, Boulder Weekly and many other publications. Her current work focuses on the politics of information in libraries. Woodcock graduated with a B.A. in English Literature from the University of New York at Fredonia in 2015 and is currently an M.A. candidate in the Media & Public Engagement program at CU Boulder. Woodcock is also a Digital Ownership Fellow with NYU Law’s Engelberg Center on Innovation Policy and Law, researching the digital book marketplace.

BOOK TALK: History, Disrupted
March 9 @ 10am PT / 1pm ET
Register now for the virtual discussion

Book Talk: Data Cartels

Posted November 11, 2022

We’re excited to invite you to join us for another book talk, co-sponsored with Internet Archive, with author Sarah Lamdan about her book Data Cartels.

Join SPARC’s Heather Joseph for a chat with author Sarah Lamdan about the companies that control & monopolize our information.

Book Talk: Data Cartels with Sarah Lamdan & Heather Joseph
Co-sponsored by Internet Archive & Authors Alliance
Wednesday, November 30 @ 10am PT / 1pm ET
Register now for the virtual discussion.
Purchase Data Cartels from The Booksmith

In our digital world, data is power. Information hoarding businesses reign supreme, using intimidation, aggression, and force to maintain influence and control. Sarah Lamdan brings us into the unregulated underworld of these “data cartels”, demonstrating how the entities mining, commodifying, and selling our data and informational resources perpetuate social inequalities and threaten the democratic sharing of knowledge.

Sarah Lamdan is Professor of Law at the City University of New York School of Law. She also serves as a Senior Fellow for the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, a Fellow at NYU School of Law’s Engelberg Center on Innovation Law and Policy.

Heather Joseph is a longtime advocate and strategist in the movement for open access to knowledge. She is the Executive Director of SPARC, an international alliance of libraries committed to creating a more open and equitable ecosystem for research and education. She leads SPARCs policy efforts, which have produced national laws and executive actions supporting the free and open sharing of research articles, data and textbooks, and has worked on international efforts to promote open access with organizations including the United Nations,, The World Bank, UNESCO, and the World Health Organization.

Book Talk: Data Cartels with Sarah Lamdan & Heather Joseph
Co-sponsored by Internet Archive & Authors Alliance
Wednesday, November 30 @ 10am PT / 1pm ET
Register now for the virtual discussion.

Book Talk: Walled Culture by Glyn Moody

Authors Alliance is very pleased to announce an upcoming virtual book talk, co-sponsored by the Internet Archive, with journalist and editor Maria Bustillos in conversation with author Glyn Moody for a discussion about copyright, digital rights and the 21st-century walls blocking access to culture.

This is the first in a series we’re planning with Internet Archive to highlight books at the intersection of authorship, information policy, and technology. So, be on the lookout for more later this fall!

Book Talk: Walled Culture with Glyn Moody & Maria Bustillos
Co-sponsored by Internet Archive & Authors Alliance
Thursday, November 10 @ 10am PT / 1pm ET
Register now for the virtual discussion.

While Ed Sheeran and Dua Lipa get sued for alleged plagiarism and the majority of creators see pennies for their hard work, record labels continue to explode. Libraries struggle to make ebooks accessible while being sued by an increasingly powerful book industry. In his book WALLED CULTURE (download for free or purchase in print), Glyn Moody explores how the transition from the physical to digital world has locked up access to culture and knowledge through copyright walls – specifically, outdated laws designed for the traditional, analogue world. 

WALLED CULTURE is the first book providing a compact, non-technical history of digital copyright and its problems over the last 30 years, and the social, economic and technological implications.

Steering our conversation will be Maria Bustillos, writer and editor of the Brick House Cooperative. Bustillos is a passionate advocate for equitable access to information, and has written extensively about issues relating to ebooks, publishing, and digital ownership.


Maria Bustillos is a journalist and critic whose work has appeared in the New York Times, the New Yorker, the Guardian, the Los Angeles Times, Harper’s, the Times Literary Supplement, ESPN, Bloomberg, VICE, Gawker, The Awl, and elsewhere. She writes the public editor column for MSNBC at the Columbia Journalism Review.

Glyn Moody is a technology writer and published journalist who has been writing about the digital world for 40 years, the internet for nearly 30, and copyright for 20. He is best known for his book, Rebel Code: Linus and the Open Source Revolution (2001). He is also the author of Digital Code of Life: How Bioinformatics is Revolutionizing Science, Medicine, and Business (2004). His weekly column, “Getting Wired”, was the first regular column about the business use of the internet, and ran 400 total articles between 1994 through 2001. More recently, he has written nearly 2,000 articles for the leading tech policy site Techdirt.

Book Talk: Walled Culture with Glyn Moody & Maria Bustillos
Co-sponsored by Internet Archive & Authors Alliance
Thursday, November 10 @ 10am PT / 1pm ET
Register now for the virtual discussion.

Community Call : Writing About Real People Legal Guide

Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

Writing about real people can raise a number of complicated legal issues for authors. Legal issues such as defamation and rights of publicity have a number of fact-specific rules,  exceptions, and exceptions to exceptions that can be difficult to navigate without help. We’ve found that these issues can be an obstacle to creation for all types of authors, from bloggers to narrative nonfiction authors to historians, cultural anthropologists, and other scholarly authors. 

As part of our highly used series of guides on legal issues for authors, Authors Alliance has set out to create a guide to writing about real people for nonfiction authors. We’ve got a good start and edited draft already, but would like your input as we refine the guide –  what should we be highlighting? What’s trickiest, most salient, and for which types of nonfiction authors? 

We invite Authors Alliance members, A2P2 partners, and others who are interested to join us for a community call on Monday, November 14, 2022, from 1-2pm Eastern/10-11am Pacific. The meeting will be held on Zoom, and you can register here.

We plan to share our plans for the guide, including scope and coverage, ideas for additional content (e.g., teaching resources), and publication plans. We’d like to hear from you: 

  • What important issues have we not included in our plans for the guide that we should? 
  • Which issues in the guide seem most salient or important for nonfiction authors?
  • What helpful examples do you have that we might include to help authors? 
  • How can we format, structure, and disseminate the guide best to support authors who need this information?