Sunday, August 14, 2022

What Means Moral

"What means moral?" sounds like something Yoda might say, doesn't it? Which is not inappropriate for an alien romances blog.

Indians, Australians, and Europeans may have a better moral compass when it comes to the moral rights of authors, artists, creators than Americans.  

That might be a provocative statement, but legal bloggers Andrew J. ThomasJacob L. TracerLauren M. Greene and Steven R. Englund representing the mostly American law firm Jenner & Block LLP --which I cited last week-- wrote something kinder and gentler, but similar.

"Moral rights are protected to some extent, but they are more narrowly defined and of less practical effect in the US than in many other jurisdictions."

Lexology link:

The Jenner & Block LLP "snapshot" explains what VARA (Visual Artists Rights Act) does and does not do to protect authors and their works from being ripped off, mutilated, distorted, destroyed, or modified.
(VARA is intended to protect artists from either having their names and/or copyright information stripped from their works, having someone else put their own name on the original artist's work, having someone apply the fair name of an artist onto a work done by someone else.)
As we may see with many copyright infringement/moral rights legal disputes, and perhaps most controversially with the case to be heard by the Supreme Court of the United States in October 2022 against the estate of Andy Warhol for modifying --multiple times-- the Goldsmith photo of Prince, the fly in the ointment for creators is the concept of "fair use", and also how far one can stretch the definition of "free speech".
"The Copyright Act also prohibits providing false copyright management information (CMI), including the name and identifying information of the author, and removing or altering CMI in certain circumstances.

State laws relating to privacy, publicity, contracts, fraud, misrepresentation, unfair competition and defamation, and the federal Lanham Act also provide certain protections consistent with the concept of ‘moral rights’."

Why are Americans morally lax? (at least as regards respect for moral rights of creative persons.)

Perhaps it is something to do with the zeitgeist (a German word that translates as time/spirit.) The "zeitgeist" text link to an India Today article illustrates the point well... so well, that I upped it twice.

Whether or not Andy Warhol appropriated someone else's words without attribution, the saying, “Art is anything you can get away with," reflects a morality --or lack thereof-- that is quite pervasive since Y2K. The same applies to "innovation" and "business".

Perhaps, the SCOTUS decision will be transformative for the state of moral rights in America.

As Jana S. Farmer for Wilson Elser writes:

"The decision will, of course, have far-reaching consequences on artists, photographers and those who incorporate the works other others into the content they create."

Turning to Australia, legal blogger Stephanie Shahine for the Australian law firm Rigby Cooke shares a very short and interesting Australian perspective on the meaning of "moral rights". Among several revelations about Australia is:

"...employment law and intellectual property can intermingle and that, even though copyright in works created by an employee in pursuance of their employment vest in the employer, moral rights cannot be ‘assigned’ to an employer..."

Original link:
Lexology link: 

Finally, and perhaps long overdue, in 2019, the Copyright Office put out a Policy Report titled, “Authors, Attribution, and Integrity: Examining Moral Rights in the United States.”  One of the Copyright Office's concerns was, and may still be, that moral rights are protected differently under different States' laws, and there may be a need to bring the diffferent laws into harmony by means of a clarifying federal law.

Law bloggers Anthony Lupo and Eva Pulliam for the law firm Arent Fox Schiff discussed the then-news, and their analysis of moral rights and rights of publicity is still worth reading.

Lexology link:
Original link:

The afslaw bloggers explain that:

"Moral rights are the rights of a creator of copyright protected work to receive credit for such work and, in some instances, to protect the integrity of the work to ensure that it properly represents the artist."

They also explain what publicity rights are, and how moral rights and publicity rights are often entwined, but protections also vary from State to State.

"Publicity rights are an individual’s right to control the commercial use of his or her name, likeness, voice or other indicia of identity"

PS Of course, since 2019, there have been changes in publicity rights, most notably for college athletes.
All the best,

Rowena Cherry 
EPIC Award winner, Friend of ePublishing for Crazy Tuesday 

Friday, August 12, 2022

Karen S. Wiesner: Fiction Fundamentals: Writing Elbow Grease, Part 1 Introduction

 Writer's Craft Article

 Fiction Fundamentals: Writing Elbow Grease, Part 1


 by Karen S. Wiesner

 Based on Cohesive Story Building, Volume 2: 3D Fiction Fundamentals Collection


In this three month, in-depth series, we're going to go over what could be considered the grunge work in building a cohesive story. Revising, editing, and polishing require a little or a lot of writing elbow grease to finish the job and bring forth a strong and beautiful book.

Once a builder has completed the house, interior painting, staining, and caulking are done, with carpeting as the last step. At that point, interior design becomes the priority. Room arrangements, color schemes, and window treatments, based on knowledge of what's available in the owner's price range and what's appropriate for each use, become the finishing touches. Everything that's done is a layer in develop the house into a home. It's in the final decorations that a solid house truly becomes a thing of beauty and a source of pride. Most new homeowners are dying to throw a party and show it off.

In writing, we have a similar layering. We can created layers through the creation of story folders, brainstorming, researching, pre-writing, outlining, and writing the first draft. (Imagine if you skip more than one of those steps! Your book is missing all those layers, and you'll definitely notice that it lacks some texture, quality, and strength as a result.)

Now we'll talk about the layers of strength and beauty that are added to a story through revising, editing, and polishing the first draft of the book. During this time, we rearrange, punch up the word colors of the book, clarify and beautify with the finishing touches that make it shine. Once you've finished this step, you'll be dying to send it out to those brave readers willing to take on the assessment of an unpublished work--those who will hopefully love it as much as you do. Even if they don't, they may help you see the strengths and weaknesses more clearly, and you can make the necessary changes before you begin submitting to publishers and agents. 

The stages involved with this layer include:

1.               Revising

2.               Involving critique partners

3.               Setting the final draft aside

4.               Final editing and polishing

By this point, you may have already completed an outline (hopefully, a cohesive one) that you've utilizing in writing the first draft of the book. Between these steps, you've hopefully let your story rest quietly on a shelf, ideally for a month or more each time. Stephen King calls this a "recuperation time", and it really is, considering the blood, sweat, and tears you've expended. When you take the manuscript down again to begin revisions, followed by editing and polishing, "you'll find reading your book over after a six-week layoff to be a strange, often exhilarating experience. It's yours, you'll recognize it as yours...and yet it will also be like reading the work of someone else...This is the way it should be, the reason you waited. ..."

Writing and revision are two completely separate processes that require different mind-sets, and therefore shouldn't be done at the same time. While writing a book, a simple need to polish words, sentences, or paragraphs can become a complete rewrite. This isn't a productive way to work when you're attempting to finish the first draft of the book. An unfortunate side effect of revising, editing, and polishing your story while you're still writing it is that you don't get the necessary distance from it in order to be able to revise effectively. You need to enter the revision phase with fresh, objective eyes once the first draft of the book is finished. Only then can you see the story as it really is. I love what Stephen King says about this process: "I'm rediscovering my own book, and usually liking it. That changes. By the time a book is actually in print, I've been over it a dozen times or more, can quote whole passages, and only wish the damned old smelly thing would go away. That's later, though; the first read-through is usually pretty fine." 

If you're building a house, you wouldn't start painting before all the walls were up. You wouldn't put in carpet before the plumbing and wiring were done because you'd end up having to tear out the carpeting in order to get the necessary plumbing and wiring in where they should be. Paint and carpet are the polish of a completed room; they're final steps in dressing it up. In the same way, writers should concentrate on finishing a full draft of the book before endeavoring to do any revision, editing, or polishing. 

Next week, we'll start the process of applying writing elbow grease with Stage 1: Revising.

Happy writing! 

Karen S. Wiesner is the author of Cohesive Story Building, Volume 2 of the 3D Fiction Fundamentals Collection

Karen Wiesner is an award-winning, multi-genre author of over 150 titles and 16 series.

Thursday, August 11, 2022

The Female of the Species

I've just read a recent book called BITCH: ON THE FEMALE OF THE SPECIES, by British zoologist and documentary filmmaker Lucy Cooke. It's a fascinating survey of the long-neglected status of females in biologists' studies of the animal kingdom—or should that be "queendom"? (Unfortunately, I'd be embarrassed to recommend it aloud by the title, a word I've ever spoken only in connection with dog breeding.) As the author describes the state of the field until recent decades, zoologists regarded males as the unquestioned drivers of evolutionary change, with females dismissed as "passive" and boring. She takes on the mission of demonstrating how wrong those scientists were.

She begins at the microscopic level, with gametes, revealing errors in the image of the female's egg as passively floating around waiting to be penetrated by one of the active sperm cells. In fact, the ovum has ways of controlling which sperm will be allowed to fertilize it. Chapter One, "The Anarchy of Sex: What Is a Female?" covers the development of the embryo, what determines its sex, and many examples of ambiguous sex among animals. Cooke goes on in subsequent chapters to explore the "mysteries of mate choice," in which females are much more active than had been assumed in the past, the assertiveness and competitiveness of females of various species, female-dominated animal social groups, how mating patterns can be a competition between male and female, sexual behavior in supposedly monogamous species, nonreproductive sexual encounters, the complicated nature of maternal behaviors, females who devour their mates, "primate politics," parthenogenesis, and the vital importance of older females in the societies of animals such as elephants and orcas. The final chapter, "Beyond the Binary," discusses intersex phenomena, animal homosexuality, and creatures who change sex. Some species can switch back and forth, and one fish is known to change sex up to twenty times in a day for optimal reproductive efficiency. Dedicated science-fiction readers will be reminded of Le Guin's aliens in THE LEFT HAND OF DARKNESS and the chieri in Bradley's Darkover series.

In 1981, anthropologist Sarah Blaffer Hrdy (yes, that's the correct spelling), whom Cooke often cites, published a book on a similar theme, THE WOMAN THAT NEVER EVOLVED. Her study, however, focuses more narrowly on primate and human females. Like Cooke after her, Hrdy's work emphasizes the masculine bias that led over a century of scientists to concentrate overwhelmingly on male animals' biology and behavior, treating females as mere footnotes to the main story. It's a bit mind-boggling that a wide-ranging study published in 2022 still has to start by clearing away that tangle of underbrush. Anyway, Cooke's entertaining and informative book illustrates that we don't have to seek very far on our own planet to find creatures whose biology and behavior may seem as alien as those of many fictional extraterrestrials.

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

Saturday, August 06, 2022

Funny-Ha-Ha (Comedy Writers Rights)

Why is it that when we "discover" a joke, or a song, or a photograph that particularly appeals to us, or strikes a chord, we feel entitled to appropriate it?

Could it be something deep in our genes? Perhaps it is a primal hunter-gatherer instinct. If that is the root cause of copyright infringement, it is no laughing matter for the professional creator... particularly for the comedy writer.

Which brings me to my hook line, "funny-ha-ha" and comedy writers rights.

Should comedy writers have the same rights as songwriters, or photographers? I think so, but you almost never see attribution or credit given to the original creator of a joke, do you?

Yet, what is a joke? 

It is not primarily an idea. Part of what makes a joke funny is the performance, the timing by the teller of the joke. Not everyone makes equally effective use of the pause, the emphasis, the sidelong glance, wave of the hand, or other gesture, and how they deliver the shock or surprise or wicked twist. 

While an idea cannot be copyrighted, the expression of an idea can be copyrighted. 

In the case of a photograph of, say, a lighthouse, anyone at all can take a snap of a lighthouse. What makes the image copyrightable is the skill and vision of the photographer in chosing the exact light quality, the angle of the light, the length of the shadows, the magnification, the filters, the vanishing point... etc etc.

Can one take a joke, and substitute every word with synonyms? Off the top of my head, I would say that one cannot. Often, the crux of a joke is a homophone, as in "Who's On First" credited to Abbott & Costello.

The latter is an example from a thought-provoking legal blog by David Oxenford of Wilkinson Barker Knauer LLP on Publish Perfomance Royalties for Comedy Recordings.

Lexology link:
Broadcast Law Blog link: 

As David Oxenford explains, maybe some of the streaming digital services are exploiting comedy performances --obviously for profit-- but are not paying the writers.

"...The claim in the lawsuits is that the authors of the script of any comedy bit have the right to control the performance of their works in the same way that composers of a song control the rights to use that song. [And] if these services are playing these comedy bits through a digital audio performance, not only do the comedians who are recorded performing such bits deserve a royalty, but a separate royalty should also be paid to those who wrote it...."

David Oxenford explains how music royalties and composer and songwriter royalties are paid, at least in theory. (There are other theories.) One problem, as Oxenford explains it, is that most American laws and consent decrees, and so forth, specify "musical works".

For any reader of our alien romances blog who happens to also pen original jokes, you might be interested to hear that

"...two organizations, Spoken Giants and WordCollections, have been formed to act as PROs for the composers of the works used in spoken word recordings..."

Come to think of it, that might also be of interest to audio book writers and their voice talent. David Oxenford's article should be read in its entirity. He is very thorough. His bottom line appears to be unenthusiastic about a possible expansion of royalty rights, but we should not read only that with which we agree, especially when it comes to copyright!

Which brings me to a very, very useful blog on the scope of copyright in the USA from Andrew J. Thomas, Jacob L. Tracer, Lauren M. Greene, and Steven R. Englund of the law firm of Jenner & Block LLP.

If my memory serves, this snapshot is part of a series covering the scope of copyright in various major countries, all of which is clearly set out with bullet points, and the sort of copyright-related questions that everyone needs to ask and have answered. Anyone honest, that is. (My words.)

Lexology link: 
I will snag their questions. For the answers, please visit the extract.

What types of works may be protected by copyright?

What types of rights are covered by copyright?

What may not be protected by copyright?

Do the doctrines of ‘fair use’ or ‘fair dealing’ exist, and, if so, what are the standards used in determining whether a particular use is fair?

Are architectural works protected by copyright? How?

Are performance rights covered by copyright? How?

Are other ‘neighbouring rights’ recognised? How?

Are moral rights recognised?

The moral rights segment is interesting, as is the placement in the list of topics. We don't talk enough about moral rights, in a copyright-related context, IMHO. Perhaps I should blog about it some time.
All the best,

Rowena Cherry 



Friday, August 05, 2022


Conclusion: In Which a Clumsy Girl Goes to Outer Space

This is the final of fifteen posts dealing with surprising things I learned in the course of writing a science fiction series.

We've come to the end of my long series dealing with the surprising things I learned in the course of writing my first science fiction saga containing Overarching Series cliffhangers in all but the final book.

Ahh, humble beginnings. Zoë Rossdale, my original Clumsy Girl, was first introduced in Glass Angels, Book 4 of my Family Heirlooms Series, where she was a secondary character who tripped onto the stage and stole my heart. She's quirky, colorful, crazy, klutzy, loveable, and liable to say or do anything outrageous. I couldn't get enough of her so I had to write a spinoff series with the Friendship Heirlooms Series. Zoë was the main character in two of the seven books in that series and a secondary character in many of the others. However, even then I didn't get my fix of the Clumsy Girl from writing two novels in her POV and including her in others. I found myself wanting to do more with her character or simply the legacy of her.

Astoria “Tori” Bertoletti, a descendent of Zoë, became one of the two primary characters in the Arrow of Time Chronicles as the librarian and planet cataloger aboard the Aero. Like her predecessor (Zoë had a gigantic Maine Coon cat that she put a leash on and walked in a dog park), Tori loves animals and nearly has a barnyard of them in her cabin aboard the ship, which provided a lot of fun, lighthearted moments in the series. Raze Salen, mankind's emissary, is the other primary character in the series, and he's Tori's best friend and later her boyfriend and husband. I loved creating these two characters and watching them grow into heroes and legends, sometimes together, sometimes apart.

The original Clumsy Girl Zoë Rossdale from the Family and Friendship Heirlooms series

You don't finish a series like this without feeling like Dorothy, forever marked by a beloved, magical world she'll never forget and always want to return to. As hard as the monumental endeavor of writing something this complicated was (and similar, hereafter endeavors are unlikely to get any easier even with practice), along with readers, I was taken on an unforgettable journey in the process of figuring all this out. I got to send a Clumsy Girl into outer space and beyond in matchless style.

Fellow authors and adventurers, whatever your complicated Overarching Series with sprawling, unique worlds; larger-than-life characters is or will eventually be, reach for the stars. Don't you dare think about holding back just because not one aspect of this endeavor will be easy and there will be countless times you'll wonder how many more hurdles you can possibly overcome. Never forget the silver lining: Virtuoso, your magnum opus awaits!

Happy writing!

Based on Writing the Overarching Series (or How I Sent a Clumsy Girl into Outer Space): 3D Fiction Fundamentals Collection by Karen S. Wiesner (release date TBA)

Karen Wiesner is an award-winning, multi-genre author of over 140 titles and 16 series, including the romantic science fiction series, ARROW OF TIME CHRONICLES

Thursday, August 04, 2022

Setting Brain Boundaries

Here's an article by Stephanie Vozza about avoiding "self-inflicted stress" so we aren't "just reacting in panic mode all day long." Learning to "manage" our thoughts can help us work more efficiently because we won't feel overwhelmed. This essay, outlining principles set forth by Joe Robinson, author of WORK SMARTER, LIVE BETTER, addresses that "where did the day go?" feeling we often experience when we don't check off the items on our to-do list. If I'm at all typical, this sense of time running away, leaving the day's goals unaccomplished, is a predicament writers often face. The daily word count target isn't reached or the designated time set aside for writing drifts by without much to show for it.

The 4 Boundaries Your Brain Needs to Feel Less Overwhelmed

Small warning note: The above website apparently lets you read a page only once before insisting that you register. So, if you decide to read this article, finish it all at once. (I first encountered it in this past Sunday's newspaper.)

The four kinds of "management" to set boundaries for your brain: (1) Attention management, concerned with improving the performance of your working memory so you won't lose focus. (2) Interruption management, which is connected to impulse control. One point under this category suggests setting aside periods of time to be e-mail-free and phone-free, thus disposing of two big interruption sources right away. (3) "Barking" management, contrasting the brain with a barking dog. Dogs bark at disturbances such as another dog going by, but when the triggering incident stops, the dog stops barking. Our brains often keep reacting long after the stimulus ends. In other words, we get mired in "rumination." (4) Refueling management, giving your brain "a break so it can rest and refuel." Production goes up after twenty-minute breaks and even ten-minute breaks. This last precept feels counterintuitive to me. Granted, a few minutes of rest are welcome, but how can they increase production if you happen to be one of those people (like me) who takes a long time to get back into the flow after a lull? Marion Zimmer Bradley used to say that housekeeping was the perfect job for a writer, because it involves a lot of stopping and starting, and you can use the stopping bits for a few minutes of writing. Suppose you have ten minutes waiting for the oven to preheat, and you need most of those minutes just to re-start your writing brain? As important as refueling may be, this advice seems to contradict the second point.

One incisive quote from Joe Robinson: "We think because something's in our head, we've got to pay attention to it. We don't." Words to live by in dealing with both interruptions and pointless rumination.

Another article I happened to come across this past weekend offered suggestions for increasing efficiency by reordering the work day's priorities. To begin with, the author advises against checking e-mail and/or social media first thing in the morning. We can easily get caught up in the message stream, lose track of time, and glance up to discover prime working time has been frittered away. Another piece of advice, maybe counterintuitive for many of us, is to resist the impulse to "warm up" with easy tasks. I know I often take that approach. Instead, he says we should tackle the day's tougher agenda items first, while we're fresh. There's also a sense of accomplishment in getting them out of the way.

I find that if I put off writing in order to "clear the decks" of niggling little stuff first, I often don't get around to the current WIP until late in the day. In line with that article's advice, I do produce more words when I force myself to spend at least a few minutes writing (whether fiction, blog posts, or my monthly newsletter) before opening e-mail or checking off a list of routine, "easy" chores. Also, composing in fifteen- or twenty-minute chunks two or three times a day makes the process less arduous. Unlike the lucky writers who actually enjoy writing (such as Isaac Asimov), I find the first-draft stage slow and difficult, so any device to "trick" myself into generating prose helps.

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt