David Baldacci, Judy Blume, Suzanne Collins, John Grisham, James Patterson, and Nora Roberts among donors who have contributed $5,655,000 to date.
January 24, 2024
NEW YORK, NY—The Authors Guild Foundation announces a $10 million capacity building campaign to increase its ability to address the myriad issues facing authors today. The campaign is the largest in the organization’s history and has received leadership commitments of $1 million each from David and Michelle Baldacci, Suzanne Collins and Charles “Cap” Pryor, John and Renee Grisham, James Patterson, and Doug and Christine Preston. Additional supporters include the Nora Roberts Foundation, Dan Brown, and Judy Blume. Campaign receipts currently total $5,655,000.
“We are delighted with the success of the campaign thus far and extremely grateful for the generosity of the authors who have stepped up to lead this campaign,” stated Mary Rasenberger, Authors Guild CEO. “The Guild has always been a fiscally efficient and effective organization, and with this campaign, we will be able to achieve that much more.”
Funds will meet immediate needs to ramp up staff to assist with legal services for authors and advocacy, fight book bans at the state level, litigate and lobby to protect authors from AI theft, and build a licensing platform for AI use of authors’ works so that authors can control and be paid for AI uses they allow as well as challenge copyright infringement and piracy.
“Never in the history of books have America’s authors faced such challenges—including book banning, rampant piracy, the wholesale theft of books by AI developers, and Big Tech’s attacks on copyright,” said Doug Preston, bestselling author, chair of the campaign committee, and former president of the Guild.
“There is, however, one powerful and effective organization fighting back, and that is the Authors Guild. Talk is cheap, but action, especially on the legal front, is expensive. We’re pleased to reach the halfway mark in this campaign and have $4.5 million more to raise. Building the Guild’s capacity is one the most effective, long-term ways you can support American literary culture and reify your love of books.”
This capital campaign comes at a time when the Authors Guild has exhibited tremendous impact in advancing and protecting the rights and interests of all writers. Over the last five years, the Guild has increased our membership by 45 percent, lobbied for the passage of the New York State Freelance Isn’t Free Act, helped to establish the U.S. Copyright Claims Board, and secured COVID assistance for freelancers. The Guild was instrumental in overturning unconstitutional book bans in Arkansas and Texas while defeating ban petitions in Virginia.
Judy Blume has designated her gift to help with legal action against book banning. “I have been a proud member of the Authors Guild for 54 years,” she said. “I am gratified to help the Guild enhance its legal services to fight the epidemic of book bans and challenges.”
In the courts, the Guild secured $9 million in compensation for writers from copyright infringing publishers. Our amicus brief was quoted in the Supreme Court’s Warhol v. Goldsmith fair use ruling, a win for writers. After years of advocacy, the Guild secured definitive rulings establishing copyright infringement by the notorious piracy site Z-Library Project and the Internet Archive’s Open Library.
Over the past three years alone, the Authors Guild fielded more than 5,000 legal inquiries from writers, including nearly 1,200 contract reviews. We also offered counsel on more than 44 First Amendment queries and addressed hundreds of other inquiries.
“The Author’s Guild does so much for everyone in the reading community: writers, readers, booksellers,” said David Baldacci. “Michelle and I are thus thrilled to be lead donors in an endowment campaign dedicated to ensuring that the important work of the Guild, which is more relevant than ever, continues with even greater success. We hope that others who feel similarly will be encouraged to help in this campaign effort, which will ensure that the Guild remains an effective and stalwart advocate for so many voices that need to be heard.”
The Guild has also underscored the threat to writers’ livelihoods posed by AI such as ChatGPT that leverages authors’ creations without consent or compensation. Last year, we met with members of Congress several times, mobilized over 16,000 authors to sign on to an open letter asserting authors’ rights over AI’s unauthorized use of their works, and initiated a class action lawsuit as plaintiffs against OpenAI and Microsoft. Expanding on these efforts is a key priority.
Three million dollars of the campaign’s $10 million goal will be used to increase services, legal and support staff, and advocacy initiatives. To ensure sustainable growth of the organization, $7 million will be placed in an endowment fund to support the Guild in perpetuity.
James Patterson said, “Sue and I are proud to help lead this important initiative to fight book bans, create more legal capacity for the Guild, and develop a new licensing platform to help authors protect their work.”
Lynn Boulger, who is retiring as the executive director of the Foundation, expertly spearheaded this campaign.
Those wanting to learn more about the Authors Guild Foundation Capacity Building Campaign, including naming opportunities, please contact Deborah Wilson, Executive Director of the Authors Guild Foundation at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Authors Guild Foundation is the charitable and educational arm of the Authors Guild, the oldest and largest professional organization for writers in the U.S.
With more than 14,000 members, the Authors Guild is the nation’s oldest and largest professional organization for published writers. It advocates on behalf of working writers to protect free speech, freedom of expression, and authors’ copyrights; fights for fair contracts and authors ability to earn a livable wage; and provides a welcoming community for writers and translators of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and journalism. Through its educational and charitable arm, the Authors Guild Foundation, it also offers free programming to teach working writers about the business of writing, as well as organizing public events that highlight the importance of a rich, diverse American literary culture and the authors who contribute to it.
Your gift will help sustain our efforts to support working writers and preserve the literary profession.
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