Pub Rants

You’ve Got Google Questions? Authors Guild Has Got Answers.

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STATUS: Google on my mind.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? I DON’T WANNA TALK ABOUT IT by Indigo Girls

Because I’m a glutton for punishment, I’ve spent the last 2 days thoroughly reading the 140-page Google Book Settlement. Yes I’ve talked to my attorney about it. Yes, I’ve discussed it with other agents. Yes, I have even talked with the Authors Guild General Counsel about it. But despite those many wonderful and revealing conversations, nothing beats a thorough understanding that comes from actually reading the settlement. For me, I felt like I needed all the pieces in place before creating my own Google letter that went out to clients today.

And you thought I was purposely avoiding my slush pile and email queries these past couple of weeks!

If you’ve been following this story, you’ll know that the Authors Guild was a named Plaintiff in the initial suit back in 2005 when the copyright infringement first began. And they have continued to be active in how this settlement will unfold and the creation of a new entity called the Book Registry.

In other words, they’ve been a strong advocate for authors’ rights in this matter.

And they are making available many valuable resources regarding the suit and the upcoming settlement and what you need to know about it on their website, for free, even for non-members.

That’s a heck of a public service. If you’ve got Google questions, chances are you can find the answers.

Hum… maybe you should think of joining the Authors Guild if you aren’t already a member. With a $90 annual fee, I’d say that’s money well spent.

And if you haven’t looked at the Google Book Settlement site, you might want to take a peek. It also has an informative FAQ page there.

If you are an author with in print or out of print books, the AG recommends that you do opt in for this settlement and claim ALL your books—even foreign editions. You can always change your mind later about allowing or not allowing display rights or even if you want to remove a book forever from being included in the Book Registry.

If you do nothing, you are automatically included and bound by the settlement and you won’t have a say in how your books are handled because you must claim them through this formal process to have control of how the content is handled via the Book Registry.

You can opt out of the settlement but AG only recommends that if you want the fun of suing Google yourself. Better have deep pockets is all I’m saying…

So find out what you need, get the answers to your Qs, so you can decide if you want to opt in.

ps. If there is any part of the settlement that you plan to read, I’d recommend Attachment A: Author-Publisher Procedures.

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5 Responses

  1. Adrian Lopez said:

    You can opt out of the settlement but AG only recommends that if you want the fun of suing Google yourself. Better have deep pockets is all I’m saying…

    You can also opt out if you think there’s nothing wrong with what Google is doing (scanning books to make them searchable might be considered fair use), or if you think there’s something wrong with the Author’s Guild keeping half the settlement as well as daring to speak for authors who aren’t members of the Author’s Guild.

  2. Adrian Lopez said:

    By the way, the settlement with the Author’s Guild gives Google rights they wouldn’t have enjoyed before the settlement, such as the right to “earn money through advertising and by selling access to the full text of in-copyright, not commercially available books.” In other words, the settlement with the Author’s Guild enables Google to sell out of print books unless the author takes steps to prevent it.

    Frankly, I find it outrageous that the Author’s Guild could effectively sell to Google rights it does not itself hold, belonging to authors it does not represent.

  3. MeganRebekah said:

    Personally, I do not have a book in publish and am not currently affected. But I am working on my first piece and have considered this issue based on how I would feel.

    I realize that I may be in the minority here, but if I find or read a copy of a book online and enjoy it, I go out and buy it to have on my bookshelf. Even when I love a book on my Kindle I buy the hard copy to keep on hand.
    So for me, as an aspiring author, I would do whatever I could to court attention from the online community. Getting people exciting about your work online, even by them reading parts of your work for free, is a good thing.

  4. Anonymous said:

    Hi Kristen,

    I have a book out of print. How do I go about opting in?


  5. HeatherM said:


    Thank you so much for the warning. The idea of being automatically bound by the settlement if you do nothing is frightening.

    Much appreciated!