FW: $125 Million Settlement in Authors Guild v. Google
- Congrats to the Authors Guild. The following note might be of interest to
many of you published--and soon to be published!
[mailto:staff=authorsguild.org@...] On Behalf Of The Authors
Sent: Tuesday, October 28, 2008 8:51 PM
Subject: $125 Million Settlement in Authors Guild v. Google
A message from Roy Blount Jr.:
A couple months after I became Authors Guild president in 2006, we met with
Google to propose a settlement to our class-action lawsuit. The Guild had
sued Google in September 2005, after Google struck deals with major
university libraries to scan and copy millions of books in their
collections. Many of these were older books in the public domain, but
millions of others were still under copyright protection. Nick Taylor, then
the president of the Guild, saw Google's scanning as "a plain and brazen
violation of copyright law." Google countered that its digitizing of these
books represented a "fair use" of the material. Our position was: The hell
you say. Of such disagreements, lawsuits are made.
Our proposal to Google back in May 2006 was simple: while we don't approve
of your unauthorized scanning of our books and displaying snippets for
profit, if you're willing to do something far more ambitious and useful, and
you're willing to cut authors in for their fair share, then it would be our
pleasure to work with you.
We're happy to report that our proposal found a receptive audience at Google
and at Association of American Publishers and the several publishing houses
that had filed a separate lawsuit in October 2005 against Google. Reaching
final agreement turned out to be not so simple, but today, after nearly two
and a half years of negotiations, we're joining with Google and the AAP and
those publishers to announce the settlement of Authors Guild v. Google.
The settlement, which must be approved by a federal judge before it takes
effect, includes money for now and the prospect of money for later.
There'll be at least $45 million for authors and publishers whose
in-copyright books and other copyrighted texts have been scanned without
permission. If your book was scanned and you own all the rights, you'll get
a small share of this, at least $60, depending on how many rightsholders
Far more interesting for most of us -- and the ambitious part of our
proposal -- is the prospect for future revenues. Rightsholders will receive
a share of revenues from institutional subscriptions to the collection of
books made available through Google Book Search under the settlement, as
well as from sales of online consumer access to the books. They will also be
paid for printouts at public libraries, as well as for other uses.
The payments will flow through the Book Rights Registry, a new independent
entity that can be thought of as the writers' equivalent of ASCAP. Much as
ASCAP tracks the uses of songs and collects royalties for songwriters and
musicians, the Registry will serve the interests of authors and others who
own the rights to books appearing online as a result of this settlement. The
Registry will be controlled by a board of authors and publishers; as part of
the settlement, Google will pay $34.5 million to get the Registry up and
running, notify rightsholders of the settlement, and process claims.
Readers are also big winners under the settlement of Authors Guild v.
Google. Readers will be able to browse from their own computers an enormous
collection of books. We hope this will encourage some readers to buy full
online access to some of the books. Readers wanting to view books online in
their entirety for free need only reacquaint themselves with their
participating local public library: every public library building is
entitled to a free, view-only license to the collection. College students
working on term papers will be able to point their computers to resources
other than Wikipedia, if they're so inclined: students at subscribing
institutions will be able to read and print out any books in the collection.
We expect that millions of out-of-print books (and many in-print books) will
be available through Google Book Search to readers, but we don't know how
many, since that depends partly on you. Participating rightsholders can
choose to pull their books from this service with reasonable notice at any
time and will retain substantial control over Google's presentation and
pricing of their books.
As with any class action, individual class members remain free to opt out of
There are many, many more details, but I'll leave those to the official
notice. There's also an official press release, edited to within an inch of
its life and the settlement agreement itself. They're linked below; be my
Roy Blount Jr.
October 28, 2008
Copyright 2008 Roy Blount Jr. Mr. Blount authorizes any recipient to
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