The Authors Guild is the nation's oldest and largest professional society of published authors, representing more than 8,000 writers. The Authors Guild and its parent organization, the Authors League of America, have achieved much for individual authors through the collective power and voice of their members - from improvement of contracts and royalty statements, to protection of authors' rights under the First Amendment, to the redress of damaging tax inequities.
The Guild's legal staff reviews its members' publishing and agency contracts, intervenes in publishing disputes, and holds seminars and symposia on issues of importance to writers. The Guild also lobbies on the national and local levels on behalf of all authors on issues such as copyright, taxation, and freedom of expression. Reports to members bring them up to date on professional issues of immediate importance, and give them the information necessary to negotiate from a position of strength.
The Authors Guild is a leading advocate on issues of importance to its members. Censor Watch reports on the latest attacks and developments concerning Freedom of Expression. Its Bullet Index helps you find the bulletin articles you need, from the state of the publishing industry to the latest developments in copyright law.
The Authors League of America was formed in 1912 by a group of authors who joined together to advance protection of their work. The original membership consisted of nearly three hundred and fifty members, primarily book and magazine writers with a few playwrights. By 1921, the Dramatists Guild was established as a branch because of the growth of the theatre business.
As film matured as an art form, the role of the screenwriter expanded to the extent that an organization was needed. Consequently, the Screen Writers Guild was formed in 1921 and an affiliation signed with the Authors League. The Screen Writers Guild began collective bargaining within the film industry following the establishment of the National Labor Relations Act in 1937, which provided the necessary legal backing.
Similarly, as radio became a highly popular medium, its writers formed the Radio Writers Guild, based in New York. Following some discussion, it agreed to become a part of the Authors League of America, rather than an affiliate like the Screen Writers Guild.
Following World War II, television grew. Consequently, television writers felt it necessary to form a Television Writers Group within the Authors League. Similarly, the Screen Writers Guild began to formulate its television wing. However, a group of New York writers quickly formed the Television Writers of America and were awarded the right by the National Labor Relations Board to represent television writers in collective bargaining. Subsequently, the Authors League split into two organizations - the Writers Guild of America, East (headquartered in New York) and the Writers Guild of America, West (based in Los Angeles) to oversee film, television, and radio.
The Authors League of America kept its two branches - the Authors Guild and the Dramatists Guild. The Writers Guild then filed for a new National Labor relations Board election for the representation of television writers. When they won this certification, the Television Writers of America saw the writing on the wall and dissolved.
When the Guilds originally split off in 1954, the screenwriters entered the Screen Branch of the WGA West and the television and radio writers became the TV-Radio Branch of the WGA West. In 1973, the membership decided to bring everyone under the same roof and voted successfully to pull the two branches together into one.
The Writers Guild continued to grow and move forward. In 1985 the Guilds joined with similar Guilds in Great Britain, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. The Writer's Guild is located at 31 East 28th Street, 10th floor, New York, NY 10016.