News

AAA puts focus on agents publishing at a.g.m.

The Association of Authors Agents has formally discussed the issue of its members publishing. One agent reported that a "consensus" had been reached that it did not breach the AAA's code of conduct, but other agents have since disputed this interpretation of events.

The issue was part of the AAA's annual general meeting, and follows the decision by agents Ed Victor and Sheil Land Associates to set up publishing imprints. Agent Peter Cox, who was unable to attend the meeting for personal reasons, had attempted to put a motion before the meeting calling for those agents who had begun publishing to be removed from the body. In the statement he said the AAA had to decide if it wanted to turn a "blind eye, and therefore, an indulgent eye to the recent practice of agents becoming publishers to their clients".

Cox had received assurances that his statement would be read out by AAA president Anthony Goff, but according to one agent who was at the meeting, following a "civilised discussion" of the issue it was decided not to hear Cox's motion. According to the agent, who did not wish to named, there was general agreement that agents publishing did not "specifically conflict with the AAA's Code of Conduct". AAA discussions are treated as confidential by their members, but Anthony Goff, president of the AAA, and agent with David Higham Associates, said the matter was not concluded. "These are early days and we will no doubt  be discussing this issue at many times in the future as both members' intentions and the market itself become clearer."

In his motion Cox formally asked the AAA to suspend the membership of those agents who had opted to become publishers to their clients. Cox also called for the creation of a sub-committee to examine the issue of agents publishing. In a separate statement released to The Bookseller, Cox said: "The code of conduct specifically excludes those involved in publishing from becoming a member, and it is only common sense that any member who subsequently becomes a publisher is no longer eligible for membership."

When told by The Bookseller that his statement had not been read out Cox responded: "The AAA had a clear opportunity to take the lead on this issue last night. I'm appalled that they have not done so, and even more shocked that the chair decided not to put my three motions on this subject to the vote of the meeting. This isn't the sort of leadership that agents need. This issue goes to the heart of what being an agent is all about. It will not go away. By ducking it, the AAA can only have lowered its reputation amongst clients and authors. If the AAA is not going to take a principled stand on this—who will?"

But one agent defended the decision not to hear Cox's statement. "We are not silencing him," the agent said. "Cox does not have the right to harangue fellow agents from a distance, but if he wants to turn up and speak, he will be heard. Had he turned up, he would have been met by a generally unfriendly audience."

Goff refused to say whether the motion had been read out, or give reasons for not reading it. But he issued the following statement: "There are certain activities that our code of conduct explicitly prohibits and the practice of  agencies offering their  authors a way to market their books directly to the reader  is not one of them, but these are early days and we will no doubt  be discussing this issue at many times in the future as both members' intentions and the market itself become clearer. Our members agree that it is absolutely not our aim to compete with publishers but rather to work with them, as we have always done in the past."

AAA members Ed Victor and Sheil Land Associates have both set up publishing imprints, while Blake Friedman and Curtis Brown have said they intend to follow. Victor has previously said that if he had to choose between the AAA and his publishing imprint, he would choose the imprint.

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I can't understand how an agent can now publish their client's books - that strikes me as a major conflict of interest and for the trade association to ignore this is worrying.

An agent who is also a publisher has a vested interest in their own company and not that of the author they purport to serve. They must remember who pays their wages!

Who exactly is the author supposed to go to for help if she feels her agent/publisher is doing a lousy job? How can any agent/publisher say with a straight face, 'these are the best possible terms we could negotiate for you...with ourselves'?

Also, does this go beyond backlist? Given that my desk is constantly covered in a tide of utter crap sent by agents in the apparently sincere belief that it merits anything other than incineration, I dread to think what they are planning to foist on the public as 'new publishing'.

For individuals who are experts at words, this should have been a simple issue.

A publisher is a publisher. An agent who becomes a publisher is no longer an agent, they are a publisher soliciting work direct from authors as has been the practice of many publishers in the past.

An agent who migrates to publishing has flown the agent coup. They should no longer be allowed to represent themselves as agents.

If an agent wishes to multi-task, the agent should be willing to allow the authors they are publishing to be represented by a different agency.

In no way should an agent pretend to represent the author when dealing with their own publishing arm.

There is no reason to limit the income streams of legitimate businesses. Any corporation could control any number of agencies, publishers and other enterprises.

The issue at hand is agents may not be working in the best interest of the author and the publishers who have committed time an money to promoting the author the agent now wishes to sign to their publishing division.

Guidelines are required that do not exist and the AAA has failed to action the creation of those guidelines.

As with any political body, the guidelines will not be enforceable after the fact. A fast response to new developments is required. Unfortunately, that fast response has been put on simmer by the AAA.

My understanding of what these agents are doing thus far is the handling of backlist material or perhaps current author material that their publisher did not pick up. These guys aren't out there actively pursuing writers for books to publish. It's more of an extended service for authors currently on the books. There's money to be made with backlists and ebooks now. If the publisher is unwilling or unable to take advantage of this with their authors, then I don't think I have an issue with agents doing it for their clients if they aren't wanting to take it upon themselves to do it. It would be another story if they were actively seeking new material from new writers to publish as new books. Then you can't really call yourself an agent anymore, but a publisher.

If your agent is your publisher who polices that relationship? if you can afford one, your publishing attorney. If you can't afford an attorney, join the Authors Guild.

I can't believe The Bookseller have printed such an inaccurate piece. I was actually at the meeting and it was NOT agreed that there was no conflict of interest in agents becoming publishers. Absolutely not. I'm not going to go into what was said because it's a private forum. I will say that when Anthony Goff and Peter Straus prepared to read Peter Cox's statement they were left unable to do so as the whole room bellowed 'No! We don't want to hear it! He should be here if he wants to speak!' and it was agreed that it would be left in public to be read by those who were interested.
This is an important debate and needs to be reported more responsibly.

This literary agent agrees completely with Peter Cox that agents should not become publishers of their own clients books - it is clearly a conflict of interest and the AAA should be ashamed of itself.

To address the point on publishing a back list.

I have serious doubts that any publisher would not be interested in publishing an author's back list. Articles I have read indicate some agents have signed the back list without even approaching the publisher who invested in the author's success. If (big if) these articles are true, then those agents have crossed the line, in my opinion, as have the authors who have turned their backs on the institutions who brought them their success.

In full respect to Ann Agent, bills tabled in government do not require the member tabling the bill to be present. Many great and not so great laws have been passed in this fashion.

A resounding "No we don't want to hear it! He should be here if he wants to speak!" does not reflect well on the professional demeanor I would expect from professional agents. This was not a query!

Re. the statement that "These guys aren't out there actively pursuing writers for books to publish. It's more of an extended service for authors currently on the books. (...) It would be another story if they were actively seeking new material from new writers to publish as new books." - that's all very well as long as it's true. Is there a place where all this - all the deals, all the negotiations, all the approaching of new clients - is made public, for all interested parties to see?

Because when you do business, it's all about trust. I have to trust that the people I deal with act professionally and in accordance with established business practices. Codes of conduct are written precisely in order to establish this trust, in order to raise the businesspeople involved above any suspicion. Because that's where you have to be: in an unassailable place.

And these agents are now moving outside that zone. They may not be doing anything unethical, unprofessional or even in the least questionable. But I can't see them not doing so. Transparency is lost. Confidence is lost.

I'm failing to understand how my report was not accurate, though it is inevitably based on partial information due to the AAA's policy of confidentiality, as is noted. If you want the debate to be reported properly, as you suggest, perhaps contact me direct. In the meantime, I have reported what I know, based on a report of a discussion that was not allowed to happen in full because it was shouted down, despite being on the AGM's agenda. The conclusion appears to be that the majority of agents don't have an issue with other agents publishing, while Peter Cox clearly does. The AAA on its part has issued a statement clarifying that the association doesn't regard publishing as against its rules, a nuanced shift from previous statements on the issue. That's all worth reporting, though I completely accept that the discussion is not closed - Philip Jones

I think it would be fair to call it an interpretation of events, rather than one directly reported, which is fine and perfectly understandable given the circumstances. The problem is that you take the line as if Peter Cox's statement was part of the meeting, which it wasn't. Since it was never read out, we can hardly be called out for voting it down, or coming to a view one way or another. On the issue of what was discussed there were certainly no violent views on either side, and I suspect that leaves us with at best an uneasy compromise.

An agent is an agent and not a publisher.

A publisher is a publisher and not a bookseller. (Many sell directly to Joe Public which is quite wrong)

The boundaries are now so blurred and it proves that the publishing world is in turmoil.

Publishers should look at their terrible e-book royalities and then agents wouldn't feel the need to publish.

Someone should start a professional e-book only publishing house who isn't an agent.

Not a Snob - explain why it is wrong for a publisher to sell direct to Joe Public? The publisher's job is sell books. Why should they restrict to whom they sell? This is very different to the role of an agent who's job is to get the best deal for the author.

From reading various senior agents on Twitter it's obvious that they don't consider Peter Cox to be any sort of player. They additionally suspect he is adopting this stance to gain publicity for his agency rather than showing a true understanding of the whole e-book world.

I think they are probably right.

It seems to me that whether or not Peter Cox is "any sort of a player" is rather subjective and totally irrelevant to the issue. Unless of course the AAA makes an official distinction between members who are "senior agents", "players" and non-senior/non-player agents. It appears that Peter Cox is a member of AAA and therefore should have the same rights, privileges and responsibilities of all other members.

The real question is simply whether or not the constitution/bylaws of the organization require a member to be present in order to present a motion. If they do, then Mr. Cox should make an effort to attend the next meeting. If they do not, then the fact that some members felt he "ought" to be present is irrelevant. If, as it appears from the article, Mr. Cox contacted the President and provided him with the motion and had it placed on the meeting's agenda, then the motion should have been presented for discussion and vote. If the attending members opposed the motion all they had to do was vote it down.

As a writer in the process of searching for an agent, I find this rather disconcerting, not because of the result (which doesn't appear to be the final word on the issue), but because of the unprofessional, if not anarchistic, way in which the meeting dealt with the issue.

agents publishing did not "specifically conflict with the AAA's Code of Conduct"

Cunning use of the word specifically there. That's sticking to the letter or the law whilst totally missing the point that being an agent and a publisher to the same person is a clear conflict of interest.

Dear Ann Agent,

Help me out here. If, as you say, “it was NOT agreed that there was no conflict of interest in agents becoming publishers,” (in other words, you never said it wasn’t a conflict of interest) should I take this as a tacit acknowledgement on you and your colleagues’ part that it is conflict of interest?

According to the AAA’s code of ethics, “An agency or agent who is also employed by publishers or purchasing principals, other than for selling rights, shall not be eligible for membership.”

If you are so uncomfortable with one of your members being "employed by publishers or purchasing principals" as you code of ethics suggests, how come you’re not fazed if one of them actually owns or runs a publishing businesses? Which is what agents Ed Victor and Sheil Land Associates have done. By setting up publishing imprints have they not become publishers - notwithstanding Anthony Goff's lame attempt to play it down by characterizing their actions as "a way to market their books directly to the reader."

Do you guys honestly believe that you are not violating the spirit and intent of your own code of ethics? Or are you just pissing in our eyes and calling it rain?

It's disturbing, but I suppose inevitable, that certain agents who don't like what I'm saying have descended to argumentum ad hominem. The question of whether I'm a "player" or not is surely irrelevant to the bigger issue.

But just for the record: I run a boutique agency. A small number of clients, but good ones. If anyone is concerned enough to be bothered by these things, they'll find that we did one of the biggest deals in London last year.

Richfordbabe - posting mild attacks under a false name just poisons the debate. Anonymity is fine if you're blowing the whistle on corruption at your employer etc, but everyone else ought to stand up and be counted. Our trade press should insist upon it.

I don't agree with Peter Cox, but he's asked a good question at some cost to himself. It's vital that someone risks taking a lead on every new issue facing the industry, but it’s so much harder to do that in the face of nameless accusers - facilitated by The Bookseller, of all things.

Blogs like Techcrunch now insist that commenters sign in with Facebook or sod off. It’s not perfect, but it's making for less snark and a better-informed industry. Genuine whistleblowers do need anonymity, but they can always write to the Bookseller and make a case for it.

Publishing badly needs new ideas and a civilised forum for debate. Its trade press might help by preventing readers from playing a consequence-free game of "whack-a-mole" on anyone who has the balls to take a public stand.

This is the first and most important inaccuracy in the report:
'a meeting of agents held last night came to what one agent described as a "consensus" that it was not a conflict of interest.'

If you meant: 'one agent claims that a meeting of agents held last night came to a consensus...' then perhaps that's right.

But you state that a consensus was reached. It's not true and it's not something anyone seems to have said, other than your one anonymous source.

Peter Cox isn't at the heart of this debate, he is just one commentator. The AAA needs and wants to discuss it with or without his contribution.

I can't understand how an agent can now publish their client's books - that strikes me as a major conflict of interest and for the trade association to ignore this is worrying.

An agent who is also a publisher has a vested interest in their own company and not that of the author they purport to serve. They must remember who pays their wages!

Who exactly is the author supposed to go to for help if she feels her agent/publisher is doing a lousy job? How can any agent/publisher say with a straight face, 'these are the best possible terms we could negotiate for you...with ourselves'?

Also, does this go beyond backlist? Given that my desk is constantly covered in a tide of utter crap sent by agents in the apparently sincere belief that it merits anything other than incineration, I dread to think what they are planning to foist on the public as 'new publishing'.

If your agent is your publisher who polices that relationship? if you can afford one, your publishing attorney. If you can't afford an attorney, join the Authors Guild.

For individuals who are experts at words, this should have been a simple issue.

A publisher is a publisher. An agent who becomes a publisher is no longer an agent, they are a publisher soliciting work direct from authors as has been the practice of many publishers in the past.

An agent who migrates to publishing has flown the agent coup. They should no longer be allowed to represent themselves as agents.

If an agent wishes to multi-task, the agent should be willing to allow the authors they are publishing to be represented by a different agency.

In no way should an agent pretend to represent the author when dealing with their own publishing arm.

There is no reason to limit the income streams of legitimate businesses. Any corporation could control any number of agencies, publishers and other enterprises.

The issue at hand is agents may not be working in the best interest of the author and the publishers who have committed time an money to promoting the author the agent now wishes to sign to their publishing division.

Guidelines are required that do not exist and the AAA has failed to action the creation of those guidelines.

As with any political body, the guidelines will not be enforceable after the fact. A fast response to new developments is required. Unfortunately, that fast response has been put on simmer by the AAA.

My understanding of what these agents are doing thus far is the handling of backlist material or perhaps current author material that their publisher did not pick up. These guys aren't out there actively pursuing writers for books to publish. It's more of an extended service for authors currently on the books. There's money to be made with backlists and ebooks now. If the publisher is unwilling or unable to take advantage of this with their authors, then I don't think I have an issue with agents doing it for their clients if they aren't wanting to take it upon themselves to do it. It would be another story if they were actively seeking new material from new writers to publish as new books. Then you can't really call yourself an agent anymore, but a publisher.

Re. the statement that "These guys aren't out there actively pursuing writers for books to publish. It's more of an extended service for authors currently on the books. (...) It would be another story if they were actively seeking new material from new writers to publish as new books." - that's all very well as long as it's true. Is there a place where all this - all the deals, all the negotiations, all the approaching of new clients - is made public, for all interested parties to see?

Because when you do business, it's all about trust. I have to trust that the people I deal with act professionally and in accordance with established business practices. Codes of conduct are written precisely in order to establish this trust, in order to raise the businesspeople involved above any suspicion. Because that's where you have to be: in an unassailable place.

And these agents are now moving outside that zone. They may not be doing anything unethical, unprofessional or even in the least questionable. But I can't see them not doing so. Transparency is lost. Confidence is lost.

I can't believe The Bookseller have printed such an inaccurate piece. I was actually at the meeting and it was NOT agreed that there was no conflict of interest in agents becoming publishers. Absolutely not. I'm not going to go into what was said because it's a private forum. I will say that when Anthony Goff and Peter Straus prepared to read Peter Cox's statement they were left unable to do so as the whole room bellowed 'No! We don't want to hear it! He should be here if he wants to speak!' and it was agreed that it would be left in public to be read by those who were interested.
This is an important debate and needs to be reported more responsibly.

Dear Ann Agent,

Help me out here. If, as you say, “it was NOT agreed that there was no conflict of interest in agents becoming publishers,” (in other words, you never said it wasn’t a conflict of interest) should I take this as a tacit acknowledgement on you and your colleagues’ part that it is conflict of interest?

According to the AAA’s code of ethics, “An agency or agent who is also employed by publishers or purchasing principals, other than for selling rights, shall not be eligible for membership.”

If you are so uncomfortable with one of your members being "employed by publishers or purchasing principals" as you code of ethics suggests, how come you’re not fazed if one of them actually owns or runs a publishing businesses? Which is what agents Ed Victor and Sheil Land Associates have done. By setting up publishing imprints have they not become publishers - notwithstanding Anthony Goff's lame attempt to play it down by characterizing their actions as "a way to market their books directly to the reader."

Do you guys honestly believe that you are not violating the spirit and intent of your own code of ethics? Or are you just pissing in our eyes and calling it rain?

This literary agent agrees completely with Peter Cox that agents should not become publishers of their own clients books - it is clearly a conflict of interest and the AAA should be ashamed of itself.

To address the point on publishing a back list.

I have serious doubts that any publisher would not be interested in publishing an author's back list. Articles I have read indicate some agents have signed the back list without even approaching the publisher who invested in the author's success. If (big if) these articles are true, then those agents have crossed the line, in my opinion, as have the authors who have turned their backs on the institutions who brought them their success.

In full respect to Ann Agent, bills tabled in government do not require the member tabling the bill to be present. Many great and not so great laws have been passed in this fashion.

A resounding "No we don't want to hear it! He should be here if he wants to speak!" does not reflect well on the professional demeanor I would expect from professional agents. This was not a query!

I'm failing to understand how my report was not accurate, though it is inevitably based on partial information due to the AAA's policy of confidentiality, as is noted. If you want the debate to be reported properly, as you suggest, perhaps contact me direct. In the meantime, I have reported what I know, based on a report of a discussion that was not allowed to happen in full because it was shouted down, despite being on the AGM's agenda. The conclusion appears to be that the majority of agents don't have an issue with other agents publishing, while Peter Cox clearly does. The AAA on its part has issued a statement clarifying that the association doesn't regard publishing as against its rules, a nuanced shift from previous statements on the issue. That's all worth reporting, though I completely accept that the discussion is not closed - Philip Jones

I think it would be fair to call it an interpretation of events, rather than one directly reported, which is fine and perfectly understandable given the circumstances. The problem is that you take the line as if Peter Cox's statement was part of the meeting, which it wasn't. Since it was never read out, we can hardly be called out for voting it down, or coming to a view one way or another. On the issue of what was discussed there were certainly no violent views on either side, and I suspect that leaves us with at best an uneasy compromise.

An agent is an agent and not a publisher.

A publisher is a publisher and not a bookseller. (Many sell directly to Joe Public which is quite wrong)

The boundaries are now so blurred and it proves that the publishing world is in turmoil.

Publishers should look at their terrible e-book royalities and then agents wouldn't feel the need to publish.

Someone should start a professional e-book only publishing house who isn't an agent.

Not a Snob - explain why it is wrong for a publisher to sell direct to Joe Public? The publisher's job is sell books. Why should they restrict to whom they sell? This is very different to the role of an agent who's job is to get the best deal for the author.

From reading various senior agents on Twitter it's obvious that they don't consider Peter Cox to be any sort of player. They additionally suspect he is adopting this stance to gain publicity for his agency rather than showing a true understanding of the whole e-book world.

I think they are probably right.

It seems to me that whether or not Peter Cox is "any sort of a player" is rather subjective and totally irrelevant to the issue. Unless of course the AAA makes an official distinction between members who are "senior agents", "players" and non-senior/non-player agents. It appears that Peter Cox is a member of AAA and therefore should have the same rights, privileges and responsibilities of all other members.

The real question is simply whether or not the constitution/bylaws of the organization require a member to be present in order to present a motion. If they do, then Mr. Cox should make an effort to attend the next meeting. If they do not, then the fact that some members felt he "ought" to be present is irrelevant. If, as it appears from the article, Mr. Cox contacted the President and provided him with the motion and had it placed on the meeting's agenda, then the motion should have been presented for discussion and vote. If the attending members opposed the motion all they had to do was vote it down.

As a writer in the process of searching for an agent, I find this rather disconcerting, not because of the result (which doesn't appear to be the final word on the issue), but because of the unprofessional, if not anarchistic, way in which the meeting dealt with the issue.

agents publishing did not "specifically conflict with the AAA's Code of Conduct"

Cunning use of the word specifically there. That's sticking to the letter or the law whilst totally missing the point that being an agent and a publisher to the same person is a clear conflict of interest.

It's disturbing, but I suppose inevitable, that certain agents who don't like what I'm saying have descended to argumentum ad hominem. The question of whether I'm a "player" or not is surely irrelevant to the bigger issue.

But just for the record: I run a boutique agency. A small number of clients, but good ones. If anyone is concerned enough to be bothered by these things, they'll find that we did one of the biggest deals in London last year.

Richfordbabe - posting mild attacks under a false name just poisons the debate. Anonymity is fine if you're blowing the whistle on corruption at your employer etc, but everyone else ought to stand up and be counted. Our trade press should insist upon it.

I don't agree with Peter Cox, but he's asked a good question at some cost to himself. It's vital that someone risks taking a lead on every new issue facing the industry, but it’s so much harder to do that in the face of nameless accusers - facilitated by The Bookseller, of all things.

Blogs like Techcrunch now insist that commenters sign in with Facebook or sod off. It’s not perfect, but it's making for less snark and a better-informed industry. Genuine whistleblowers do need anonymity, but they can always write to the Bookseller and make a case for it.

Publishing badly needs new ideas and a civilised forum for debate. Its trade press might help by preventing readers from playing a consequence-free game of "whack-a-mole" on anyone who has the balls to take a public stand.

This is the first and most important inaccuracy in the report:
'a meeting of agents held last night came to what one agent described as a "consensus" that it was not a conflict of interest.'

If you meant: 'one agent claims that a meeting of agents held last night came to a consensus...' then perhaps that's right.

But you state that a consensus was reached. It's not true and it's not something anyone seems to have said, other than your one anonymous source.

Peter Cox isn't at the heart of this debate, he is just one commentator. The AAA needs and wants to discuss it with or without his contribution.

And I'm guessing that when Cox's statement was shouted down there was no consensus there either . . .

In my experience a great number of agencies don't fulfill the AAA's code of practice in a great many areas.

I'm still amused at how an effectively untrained, unregulated, body of people should be holding both publishers and authors to ransom in the first place.

The best practice of agencies is that, on the whole, they do not negotiate better contracts and commissions for the bulk of the authors they claim to represent. Nor do they 'manage' the bulk of 'their' authors' careers. Far from it.

Then, from the publisher's perspective, there's all the gazumping they do, sorry bidding wars they initiate, which for agencies in other industries is often seen as an unfair practice and is regularly called to be made illegal.

In a nutshell the industry needs to pull its head out of the sand and stop listening to the received wisdom of agents, lawyers, accountants and sales people. None of these people create the business. But they are driving it right now.

How about this:
1. Bring slush piles back in house with clear submission policies and proper R&D budgets (because that's what it is).
2. Digital rights: 50/50 non-exclusive split for author/publisher based on current best practice journalism syndication practices (there's no way publishers can justify the current % for what is a 'Save-File-As' operation. Publishers could offer different models for exclusive syndication to specific markets on a time-limited basis).

I'm staying anonymous as I need my kids to eat. Sorry.

I think Secret Agent is a little unfair on many agents as there are some who work extremely hard for "their" authors and they do not do this only to make money for themselves but because they believe in the quality of writing/storytelling or whatever and feel the author deserves to get published and find a market. If the author succeeds, so do they and if they screw their authors they loose them. In these days of the conglomerates no one editor can make a decision so it makes sense to have the filter of a reliable agent and publishers get to know the agents whose opinion they trust. A strong independent publisher would need to be very successful to afford an R&D department as Secret Agent suggests and the moment they are that successful they'll get taken over by one of the Big Boys anyway.

I agree with Peter Cox in some ways and do not agree with agents becoming commercial publishers and still claiming to be agents. However I can see that an agent could create a non-conflicting way of assisting their writers to print on demand or create an e-book which maintains the visibility of the work or backlist without compromising the rights. At present if a publisher takes on these rights they control what can be done with them whereas if the agent is involved, when a good deal can be done, the author would be free to do it.

I've changed the headline on this piece, which I think puts an unnecessary spin on the meeting. There was never a vote on expelling agents. I've also changed the opening sentence to reflect what "Ann Agent" writes above. Since other agents clearly contest the view that a consensus was apparent, it makes sense to reflect that in this piece. I'd also like to reiterate the point made in the original piece, and made in Anthony Goff's statement that the AAA does not consider the issue closed.