Google Settlement News Update

Allan AdlerWith six weeks remaining for rightsholders to choose whether to opt in or out from the historic Authors Guild/AAP/Google settlement, a spokesman for one of the plaintiffs tells Copyright Clearance Center that “explaining the settlement agreement, and indeed, explaining the lawsuit that the agreement grew out of, has been virtually a full-time job.”

Recently, Allan Adler, Vice President for Legal and Governmental Affairs in the Washington, DC, office of the Association of American Publishers, AAP discussed with me the settlement and its significance for authors and publishers, both within the US and abroad. I invite you to listen and hear more on these topics:

  • How has AAP used extensions in key settlements deadlines as an opportunity for additional clarification and communication to the rightsholder community?
  • What is AAP’s reaction to the U.S. Department of Justice evaluating the proposed settlement for anti-trust implications?
  • What type of feedback has AAP received about the settlement from international rightsholders?

And if you can, join me on Thursday, July 30, 6:30 p.m., in New York City at The General Society of Mechanics and Tradesmen Library, 20 West 44th Street, the home of the NY Center for Independent Publishing, where I will present a seminar and Q&A session, “Understanding Google Settlement’s Impact on Independent Presses.” Please bring all your questions about the Settlement!

Thanks as always for listening,
Christopher Kenneally Signature
Christopher Kenneally
Director, Author Relations
Copyright Clearance Center
chrisk@copyright.com

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One Response to “Google Settlement News Update”

  1. Doris Booth July 27, 2009 at 12:54 pm #

    As Editor-in-Chief for Authorlink.com and Manager of the Authorlink Literary Group, I hope all sides of this issue will be clearly understood before the Court case is passed. In the spirit of a robust debate, I would like to make several observations:

    First, the Google settlement greatly expands the amount of copyrighted material that Google can display online for free. Instead of brief snippets from in-copyright works currently displayed by Google, the settlement allows up to 20 percent of the text of a book to be available without charge for online viewing.

    The settlement establishes a Book Rights Registry to become a sort of super agency for the management of digital rights for Google. The Registry’s powers can then easily be expanded beyond Google to any digital reseller. This should raise some interesting questions for entities like the Association of Authors Representatives, whose AAR members heretofore have been overseers of their clients’ digital rights.

    Has anyone out there examined the actual cost to the author of having two “middle men” (Google and the Book Registry), each taking cuts of revenue and exerting influence over pricing? The announced publisher/author share of consumer sales is 63%, while Google retains 37%. Sounds good. But there’s some fine print in the massive legal document that everyone in the industry should study. For example, the author’s or publisher’s actual take-home pay may not be 63%. The Book Rights Registry is structured to ultimately charge authors and publishers up to an additional 20% of sales revenues simply for “clearing” rights. This reduces payment to 43% (which must be apportioned between publisher and author). And if any disputes arise, the Registry can charge hefty legal fees to arbitrate disagreements.

    There are also other troubling issues, such as price setting policies, and orphaned works. By opting into the settlement, an author can hope to recover about $60 per title and to be paid within about four or five years. Is the deal really worth it? The rightholder can already control his/her own title through Google’s book program? Why should every last author opt into the settlement, and by default into the Registry? We need to thoroughly understand the long-term implications of the settlement on authors, their agents, and their publishers before we opt in.

    For a more detailed review of the settlement, please read my articles Google Settlement Has A Few Unseen Wrinkles for Authors and Experts Explain Google in Great Detail

    On behalf of Authorlink, I also welcome comments to dbooth@authorlink.com.

    Doris

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