Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Google-Eyed

I love Google. I use Mozilla Firefox as my browser, I search via Google, and I am totally gmail (for my personal email, my domain/business email, and my company’s email). And yet…

Do I trust them with my books?

Google’s goal is to scan every single book in the world. How many is that? According to the LA News Monitor, it’s 129,864,880 (and increasing). How can it do that?
By June, the company has scanned 12 million books and expects to complete the scanning of existing books within a decade, Google Books engineering manager Jon Orwant said at a conference.
Over 129 million books scanned within the next ten years. Google doesn’t seem to stop even when the book is out of print but still under copyright. They scan it anyway. There probably aren’t many of those kinds of books, right?
These books comprise about 65 percent of the world’s books. Google has been accused of infringing on author copyrights by scanning in the books, according to class-action lawsuits filed by the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers in 2005.
Google has said it will “give royalties to the authors and sell digital copies of these books.” Why don’t the holders of the copyrights have the say-so as to whether Google copies the books? Google seems to be saying, we don’t care if you have the copyright. We’re going to copy it, but, hey, we’ll pay you.

I know this has been going on for quite a while. It was five years ago that the class-action lawsuits against Google were filed. A judgment from the U. S. District Court hasn’t been issued yet.

I have a feeling a great many authors would say, sure, scan my book, just pay me for each sale. I also have a feeling that most authors would like to be asked before their books are scanned. Wouldn’t you? Or maybe not.

35 comments:

  1. That is really very interesting. I know if I were in the position of having a book scanned, I would want to be asked for permission first.

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  2. I'd like to be asked. The answer would be yes if I was to be paid, but I'd definitely want to know.

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  3. I think they should ask permission first. There could be many reasons why the author chose to not republish it.

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  4. I haven't given google any of my books but I also haven't looked either. But, I guess that's what's happening now. I don't know that people can stop it.

    CD

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  5. I would definitely like to be asked!

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  6. It just seems to me that if you or your heirs own the rights, you or they should be asked. I'm no lawyer, though.

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  7. Yes, authors should be asked and paid. How is this possible?
    Karen

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  8. It's the principle of the thing. It's my work, ask before you use it. It's like putting a poem up on your blog for free, then having someone put it on another site. Even if they have given you credit, it's best to ask permission first.

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  9. Laurita, that's why it's risky to do that. Others can steal and claim your work and you won't even know it. Authors have to take risks though.

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  10. I'm not sure if I DO trust them completely. I've certainly seen large portions of my books on Google before.

    But really, I'm not sure we have a choice. There's definitely only one way to move forward in this business...taking risks.

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  11. That's a scary thought. I'd like to be asked first.

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  12. I love google too. It's by far, my favorite search engine. But gmail is for my blog, mostly, and that area of my business.

    If it was my book, of course I'd want to be asked first. But Google is operating on the old principle, don't ask, do it, you can always apologize/ask for forgiveness later.

    I'm sure they're not the only ones scanning w/o permissing. They just got caught, but really, they weren't hiding what they were doing either.

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  13. You're right, Sia, they weren't hiding.

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  14. I don't know much about these things, but MAYBE asking the author permission puts the author in an awkward position with their publisher, so an author who WANTED TO wouldn't feel like they COULD. This takes the pressure off the author, while still offering the author benefit.

    I can SEE how the publishers take issue (and I can see authors wanting permission asked) but I do think they might be offering a political solution to a fair few authors, too.

    (there is a google headquarters here in Ann Arbor: I wonder if this is going on right here)

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  15. If I was a publisher I wouldn't be impressed - and I'd want to be asked first, at least. I'm happy to hear they'll be paying royalties, etc.

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  16. There's been a fuss about the way Google was conducting business and some changes have been made. If you're an author with an agent or publisher, you want to be sure you read your contract to see who will hold the rights to future ebooks and what the terms are. If you're going it on your own, study up to see what you need to do to protect your electronic rights.

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  17. Permission is always good--that's what copyrights are all about! It is all about protecting the rights.


    Sylvia Dickey Smith

    A War of Her Own

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  18. Yes, I would like to be asked, simply on general principles. I'm under no illusions, though, that they will be making more than pennies on my literary output, if that.

    That said, I hope the courts will give Google clear guidelines that don't disadvantage writers and publishers. Too many corporations are getting too big and getting away with whatever they please.

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  19. Google is evil. They think they should own everything.

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  20. If Google wants to sell books, they should do the same thing that Amazon and other Online book sellers are doing - offer the authors a way to put the book up themselves. I hate to think that they may have scanned my out-of-print books - to which I have rights - and put them up for sale. How will I get paid?

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  21. Egad! The more Google does the less I like them. Personally, I think the author (or whoever retains the rights to the work should the author be deceased) be asked prior to doing something such as this. At the very least there should be acknowledgment and respect of the person who created the work in the first place before making an assumption based, it seems to me, solely upon entitlement.

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  22. Very true, Bob. Set the guidelines for Google and whoever follows.

    You made me laugh, Diane.

    Maryann, the first question is how do you find out. Their plan, supposedly, is to scan every book.

    Kimberly, if I remember right (and my memory is questionable) that's how this came to light. Heirs to the book rights of some authors discovered it.

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  23. I thought there was a decision among the big publishers and google. Only us the independent authors were left high and dry. Maybe I'm wrong...

    Steamy Darcy

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  24. I would absolutely want to know before they scan it, that way I know to monitor them. Which brings up a point, we should be able to monitor our sales whether from google or anyone else.
    Nancy
    N. R. Williams, fantasy author

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  25. It's always the self-pubbed and small press authors who have to watch out for themselves.

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  26. www.lynnemery.com8/10/2010 6:51 PM

    I would prefer to be asked. I don't like this attitude, "We're big, have deep pockets and can do as we please, but we're being nice to let you know we're doing as we please with *your* work."

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  27. I have yet to understand how they can do this and get by with it. I think they should have to get my OK before scanning my book, and even if they paid me, I’m not sure it’s something I would give them permission to do.

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  28. I hear what you're saying Jane. It's nice to be asked to the dance, but I'm not even sure I want to go with you.

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  29. Every book! Wow! Now that's job security.

    I'm divided on this. I want people to read my book, but to have it scanned without my permission, I'm not cool with that.

    Very interesting.

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  30. Helen,

    As I understand the agreement, which received preliminary approval last November, Google can list books in their book search but can preview and sell books only with permission of the author or publisher who owns the rights. Out of print and public domain books are different. The agreement can be found here: http://books.google.com/googlebooks/agreement/

    Is my understanding wrong?

    I've been adding client books to preview and sale and have to explicitly give permission for how much can be shown in preview and set up for digital sale just like with any other retailer. Google is not yet selling downloads but is expected to do very soon.

    Lillie Ammann
    A Writer's Words, An Editor's Eye

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  31. Thanks for the info, Lillie. I do believe you're right. It's a shame that it took family members who held rights to some books to stop Google from just scanning and adding books to their list without permission. Sort of makes you wonder how many others are out there that don't realize what's going on. I hope the changes make Google more diligent about tracking down owners of copyrights.

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  32. Google Book Search is a very complex issue, with good and bad points on both sides. I have mixed feelings about it. But from what I've read, authors can opt out, and authors are compensated with royalties.

    If you look for Google Book Search Settlement in Wikipeadia you'll get a basic run down and lots of links to more in-depth information. My initial reaction was viscerally negative, but now, as I said, I have mixed feelings. It has the potential to revive out-of-print non-income-earning books into revenue streams for authors who no longer earn anything from their books because they simply are no loner available.

    One big problem is that it potentially gives Google an unprecedented monopoly on out of print, but still under copyright works. As I said, it's a complex issue.

    ~jon

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  33. If you are considering having any of your books scanned, we offer a service to non destructively scan your books and deliver epubs or search enabled PDFs that are print ready.

    http://scanyourbooks.com/

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  34. After reading this, I searched Google books using my name. It came up with my first two books, and one of them showed you inside the book. That doesn't seem right, because people can just read it there without buying it! I'm not getting paid anything for that.

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  35. Connie, did it offer a full read of the book or just a glimpse or a portion of the book?

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