Edward Hasbrouck recently spoke on “Making a Living as a Writer in the Digital Age” at The Mechanics Institute Library in San Francisco. In addition to speaking and his print and online travel writing as “The Practical Nomad” (practicalnomad.com), Edward continues his volunteer work with the National Writers Union to protect and defend the rights of all writers under US and international copyright law.

The law is generally on the side of writers, he says. Everything you write is protected by copyright law. But in practice, protecting your rights is difficult and expensive. Protection of writers’ rights is worse in the USA than in much of the world. And our existing rights are under attack from all sides: from publishers, from Internet companies that want to use our work without paying us for it, and from opponents of copyright who want to eliminate any right of writers to receive payment for, or have control over, our work. “Nobody is going to speak up for us in the venues where these issues are being discussed if writers don’t speak up for ourselves,” he says.

In 2009, Edward was elected co-chair of the Book Division of the National Writers Union (nwu.org). Since then, he has helped lead the NWU’s lobbying with Congress, the US Copyright Office, and the White House Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator. This has included written submissions and testimony at meetings and hearings opposing proposals to allow digital copying a distribution of books, articles, and Web sites without payment to writers, and supporting efforts to reduce the prohibitive cost and complexity of registering and enforcing our copyrights.

Edward also represents the NWU in national advocacy coalitions and in several international consortia. In 2016, he was nominated by the NWU and the International Federation of Journalists (ifj.org) and elected to a three-year term as the sole representative of writers worldwide on the Board of Directors of the International Federation of Reproduction Rights Organizations (IFRRO). IFRRO is a network of collective licensing agencies such as the Copyright Clearance Center in the USA, and advocates with national governments (including the US) and international organizations to advance and defend the rights of copyright holders.