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FW: $125 Million Settlement in Authors Guild v. Google

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  • Kelly Bennett
    Congrats to the Authors Guild. The following note might be of interest to many of you published--and soon to be published! _____ From:
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 29, 2008
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      Congrats to the Authors Guild. The following note might be of interest to
      many of you published--and soon to be published!


      From: staff=authorsguild.org@...
      [mailto:staff=authorsguild.org@...] On Behalf Of The Authors
      Sent: Tuesday, October 28, 2008 8:51 PM
      To: kelly@...
      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
      file claims.

      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
      the settlement.

      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.
      Authors Guild

      October 28, 2008

      p9fpvtpv82eu&id2=4v5m95m8nrfhosvgctapbtwzf8xe4> Release
      Class Notice
      Settlement Agreement

      Copyright 2008 Roy Blount Jr. Mr. Blount authorizes any recipient to
      forward and post this message in its entirety.

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