Thursday, August 13, 2009

Just Say No

According to an August 7th New York Times article, one of the largest entertainment agencies, William Morris Endeavor, is telling its clients to opt out of the Google book settlement.

You probably already know about the controversy surrounding Google and the belief by publishers that they were violating copyrights by scanning books to make available online in digital form and to sell them. The NY Times article said:
Copyright holders who agree to the settlement would have the right to dictate how Google displayed content from the books, and could ask Google not to sell them.
So why is William Morris advising its clients to opt out of the settlement?
… William Morris advises writers to opt out of the settlement because it would “bind copyright owners in any book published prior to January 9, 2009 to its terms…. “Now they’ve got this license to sell your books at a pre-negotiated one-time royalty that you’re stuck with unless a court changes the settlement,” Eric Zohn, an attorney in business affairs at William Morris, said in an interview. “It’s like a legislative change. Under copyright law, you don’t have anything without express written consent from the copyright holder. Now the court is saying Google is free to sell your book unless you expressly tell them not to.”
Zahn is, on the other hand, advising clients to allow Google to keep their digitized books in Google’s database for searching.

It sure seems like this whole Google digitalizing and selling books deal will never get settled. What do you think?

(After telling us your thoughts, remember to bop over to The Blood-Red Pencil. It's day three in my Public Speaking for Authors series. Day one was Organizing Your Talk. Day two was Practicing Your Talk. And today, it's Preparing for a Reading. See you there.)

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21 comments:

  1. The suits against Microsoft went on for years and years (abroad and domestically), so I can only imagine the Google issue will, too. Thanks for keeping us updated, Helen.

    Elizabeth
    Mystery Writing is Murder

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  2. Sometimes it's like we, the authors, have to just sit back and watch, 'cause there's not a whole lot we can do even though it greatly affects us.

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  3. This is an interesting discussion and I wished I knew more about it. The way it sounds to me right now, if I were a published writer, I would opt out of it, with the option of opting back in whenever the terms become more clear or more acceptable. Why would Google be allowed to sell anything without permission? Doesn't sound fair to me.

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  4. I keep hearing so many arguements from both sides. I have a couple old, unavailable self-pubbed books in their databank and at the moment, I've not opted out. If the settlement goes through, I'll get compensation for those out-of-print books, which is funny to me.
    But I've also heard that if you opt out, once the settlement goes through, you'll have to hire your own team of lawyers to go after Google, as they will still have virtual copies of your book with no obligation to pull them.

    L. Diane Wolfe “Spunk On A Stick”
    www.circleoffriendsbooks.blogspot.com
    www.spunkonastick.net
    www.thecircleoffriends.net

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  5. Ouch, makes my head hurt just thinking about it. Just have to wait and see how the dust settles.
    Karen

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  6. LDW - I'm 99% sure you can ask for your books to be removed.

    eg this part of the FAQ explicitly states you can ask for your books to be removed but still participate in the cash settlement.

    http://www.googlebooksettlement.com/help/bin/answer.py?answer=118704&hl=en#q43a



    Helen - just got your latest newsletter, so not related to the above. I've often wondered how you manage to maintain your on-line presence the way you do. You must be a complete dynamo!

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  7. Anton, you make me laugh. I'm a slog. I see some of you out here on the Internet and you astound me!

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  8. I'm still confused about the settlement and need more input.

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  9. I have a wait and see attiude, but will be more dilliegnt about the matter when it comes time to release my next book.

    Stephen Tremp

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  10. Not to minimize, but...If only I had enough at stake to have a stake. Please, Google, abuse me.

    Best Regards, Galen
    Imagineering Fiction Blog

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  11. It has been my experience that the power lies with the 'publisher' no matter what the medium. Authors need to educate themselves about intellectual property rights and read everything they sign with a wary eye. It's a scary world out there.

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  12. This is true, Elspeth. Authors may be the only party in all this who don't have a lawyer.

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  13. It makes my head hurt. I've been back and forth on this issue so often I can no longer decide if it's good, bad, or indifferent. I just want a decision made so we can all move along/
    ~jon

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  14. I agree that writers' only recourse right now is to wait and see how things pan out.

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  15. I find the whole thing totally confusing and have to admit I really don't understand it.

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  16. It's exhausting. And yes, you're right, it's something that will likely be hashed out for years. I think it's just going to take time for the publishing industry and technology companies to work together.

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  17. Makes me glad I'm an author, not a lawyer!

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  18. Of course a lawyer made that statement you quoted. I still don't know what he was saying. :-)Like others who have commented, I don't understand this whole mess and the legalese is killing me.

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  19. It's so confusing. On one hand one wants to keep up with new technology and new avenues of publishing (or "publishing"), but at the same time it seems authors are (still) being taken advantage of.

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  20. I think I'm just going to hide my head in the sand, as long as I can still write.

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  21. Sounds like a plan, Sheila. Hope your sandbox is big enough for the rest of us.

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