Senator Charles Schumer
757 Third Avenue Suite 17-02
New York, NY 10017
Dear Senator Schumer:
On behalf of our membership, I write in support of the Free Speech Protection Act of 2009, which you co-sponsor with Senators Specter and Lieberman. The Writers Guild of America, East, represents professionals who work in motion pictures, television, radio, and new media. Our members are protected by the freedoms guaranteed by the United States Constitution’s First Amendment and dedicated to defending the fundamental principles of free expression it embodies.
Writers should not be subject to the far more restrictive libel laws of other nations. The prospect of being sued in the United Kingdom, for example, for a piece written in the United States will inevitably have a chilling effect. No writer can afford to spend the time, energy, and money necessary to defend such an action abroad, or to risk judgments arising out of work which would be protected by the First Amendment.
One need not support any particular political position, or agree with any particular book or article to conclude that writers should be protected from what has become characterized as “libel tourism.” Important ideas can inspire strong reactions, which is all the more reason that people who express those ideas be able to do so without facing lawsuits, damage awards, and injunctions from jurisdictions which do not value free speech as much as we do.
We thank you for your attention and look forward to your response. Please let us know if there are additional ways in which we can be of help as you press forward to pass this important piece of legislation.
cc: Senator Arlen Spector
Senator Joseph Lieberman