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Old 09-03-2009, 12:31 PM   #1
ahammer
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amazon sends a note to google books.. we hate you.

http://www.engadget.com/2009/09/03/a...ks-settlement/

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Well, we knew this was coming: Amazon's trying to convince a federal judge to block the $125m settlement that'll let Google Books make out-of-print works available online. According to Amazon's newly-filed brief, allowing the settlement will essentially force copyright holders into allowing Google to scan in and sell their works whether they want to or not -- a thorny area of the law Amazon's gotten pretty familiar with as it builds out the Kindle library. Of course, since the actual settlement is between Google and those very same authors and publishers, it certainly seems like Amazon is crying crocodile tears here -- according to our old friend Paul Aiken of the Authors Guild, "Amazon apparently fears Google could upend its plans" to make the Kindle the dominant ebook platform. Heady stuff -- and with more briefs against the settlement due in the next few days from heavy hitters like Sony, Yahoo and Microsoft, things seem like they're building to fever pitch. We'll keep you updated.
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Old 09-03-2009, 12:36 PM   #2
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Interesting, seems i need to keep track of this topic as im interested in obtain books out of print and that have expired copyright (like some lovecraft novels =D)
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Old 09-03-2009, 12:53 PM   #3
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Please don't let Google become a content monopoly, that was our plan!
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Old 09-03-2009, 01:03 PM   #4
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Author's Guild fires back at Amazon

http://www.publishersweekly.com/arti...?desc=topstory

"Amazon's hypocrisy is breathtaking."

Interesting response to the ongoing challenge to the Google settlement.
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Old 09-03-2009, 02:10 PM   #5
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I really don't think Amazon is being hypocritical, but they don't have a lot of room to speak since they are complaining merely from a business standpoint. They just don't want the competition.
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Old 09-03-2009, 04:03 PM   #6
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The authors guild does not represent all authors everywhere. They took it upon themselves to make a deal with google for all writers, whether they were their members or not. A lot of writers organisations, agents and publishers have advised their writers to opt out of this ridiculous settlement. Amazon is not altruistic in this but if this deal is allowed to go through authors are going to get an even rawer deal than they currently are getting. The authors guild barely represents 8000 members. This is going to affect millions of authors worldwide.
This is the SFWA (Science Fiction Writer's of America) statement on google
http://www.sfwa.org/2009/08/sfwa-sta...ok-settlement/
National Writers Union opposes google settlement
http://www.wired.com/epicenter/2009/...ok-settlement/
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Old 09-03-2009, 04:11 PM   #7
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Can writers opt out after it is settled?
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Old 09-03-2009, 05:23 PM   #8
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While I think digitization of otherwise inaccessible books can be a Good Thing™, I have to concur that on a fundamental level the Google agreement appears to violate copyright.

To be specific: if the agreement goes through, everyone except Google is required to get an author's and/or publisher's explicit consent to convert and distribute a digital version of the book. Google, on the other hand, is requiring everyone to opt out. It's unclear to me why Google should receive such special dispensation; if B&N or Amazon started selling a ton of ebooks by authors without their explicit consent, then even if the authors were getting royalties I'm sure they would be up in arms. As would the Author's Guild....

And it's unclear whether anyone else who scans a bunch of out-of-print books will get the same deal as Google, assuming anyone has the time or resources to replicate the effort.

Separately, I find it highly amusing that the Author's Guild is faulting Amazon for trying to keep its status as the (US) ebook market leader. Almost every major player in the ebook field right now (e.g. Amazon, Sony, Google, B&N) would love to spend the next 5-10 years dominating the ebook market. It's like lambasting a political party for trying to get and hold a majority.
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Old 09-03-2009, 05:27 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Kali Yuga View Post
While I think digitization of otherwise inaccessible books can be a Good Thing™, I have to concur that on a fundamental level the Google agreement appears to violate copyright.

<snip>

And it's unclear whether anyone else who scans a bunch of out-of-print books will get the same deal as Google, assuming anyone has the time or resources to replicate the effort.
Well, that's the point, isn't it? Google has the resources and has made the effort.

Not that I have a clue whether the settlement is 'fair' or not, but on the whole I do think the project is a Good Thing. But the contention is about 'orphan' works, which have little to no monetary value by definition, so I'm more likely to come down on Google's side than not.
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Old 09-03-2009, 05:52 PM   #10
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History trumps out-of-print authors' concerns

Historically, this is an important thing, preserving important out-of-print books digitally for generations to come.

In the grand scheme of history, nobody in a century or two is going to care that a few out-of-print authors didn't wring every last cent out of their formerly published material. They're just going to appreciate that some kind of record of it was kept in an easily accessible fashion. That's why I side with Google on these kind of matters, at least they're making the effort.

Just another perspective to consider.
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Old 09-03-2009, 06:37 PM   #11
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The idea of something like this, where a library that has all texts, is a good thing, however I don't think it should really be a company, or at least a for profit one.

If I was the one doing it, I'd have it where this impartial organization scans and stores all the info. Copyright owners go to that organization, and go "I own these works and others can pay to use them for x amount" or "I own these works and I'll say who can use it on a case to case basis". Works that are unknown who the owner is, can be used for a standard fee or given percentage of sales (which ever is more), with all the money being saved for the copyright owner. If the copyright owner is found, they get the money and then can say what can be done with their works. Anyone currently using the work must cease and then renegotiate with the newly found copyright owner. If no owner is found before the copyrights expire, any money in holding for them is then turned over and used to help fund the organization with excess going to other charities (it's a non profit thing, remember?). Also, works have X (say 20) amount of years to be registered before they may be used as part of the unknown copyright owner policy, with the countdown starting from the founding of the organization, or creation of the work (if post dates organization founding), and any registered works can be negotiated for use of immediately after they are registered. Unless the unless the copyright owner stipulates it (well, their work to say what ever they want about it), no one company can have exclusive usage of a work. Also copyright owners must keep current contact information in the registry, and if not maintained at least every 5 years, payments and usage are frozen. That is to make sure that anyone doesn't slip into the ether.

Not perfect, but gonna be a pain in the ass no matter what you do.
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Old 09-03-2009, 07:20 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Hellmark View Post
The idea of something like this, where a library that has all texts, is a good thing, however I don't think it should really be a company, or at least a for profit one.

Not perfect, but gonna be a pain in the ass no matter what you do.
They'd never get the funding. These non-profits already exist, but they lack money, they lack OCR innovators (which google has in-house), they lack the visibility Google has in order to obtain partnerships..
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Old 09-03-2009, 07:22 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Hellmark View Post
The idea of something like this, where a library that has all texts, is a good thing, however I don't think it should really be a company, or at least a for profit one.

If I was the one doing it, I'd have it where this impartial organization scans and stores all the info. Copyright owners go to that organization, and go "I own these works and others can pay to use them for x amount" or "I own these works and I'll say who can use it on a case to case basis". Works that are unknown who the owner is, can be used for a standard fee or given percentage of sales (which ever is more), with all the money being saved for the copyright owner. If the copyright owner is found, they get the money and then can say what can be done with their works. Anyone currently using the work must cease and then renegotiate with the newly found copyright owner. If no owner is found before the copyrights expire, any money in holding for them is then turned over and used to help fund the organization with excess going to other charities (it's a non profit thing, remember?). Also, works have X (say 20) amount of years to be registered before they may be used as part of the unknown copyright owner policy, with the countdown starting from the founding of the organization, or creation of the work (if post dates organization founding), and any registered works can be negotiated for use of immediately after they are registered. Unless the unless the copyright owner stipulates it (well, their work to say what ever they want about it), no one company can have exclusive usage of a work. Also copyright owners must keep current contact information in the registry, and if not maintained at least every 5 years, payments and usage are frozen. That is to make sure that anyone doesn't slip into the ether.

Not perfect, but gonna be a pain in the ass no matter what you do.
It reminds me of that time in college where I made a friend a birthday cake, bought several cans of different colored frosting and decorated it up all amateurly pretty. Got lots of oohs and ahhs at the party.

Except this one guy kept going on and on how he could have done it better, that he knew how to make icing chrysanthemums and everything. To which I responded, "But you didn't, did you?"

The point being, that 'done' is better than 'not done'. Google's done it - I don't see anyone else stepping up to the plate. It's a prodigious effort - I think it deserves some kind of reward.
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Old 09-03-2009, 07:24 PM   #14
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I think it would be easier to have the Kindle display ePub and the we would all win
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Old 09-03-2009, 07:24 PM   #15
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Well, that's the point, isn't it? Google has the resources and has made the effort.
How does that justify copyright infringement and/or granting Google a special exemption from existing copyright law? Especially on the authority of a small special interest group like the Author's Guild?

If I made the effort to make a digital copy of a bunch of 78's that were out of print, that effort would not give me the legal right to sell the digital copies without the explicit consent of the publisher -- even if I was sending payments to ASCAP or BMI.

And is this same exemption with the same exact rates granted to anyone else who runs around and scans a bunch of paper books? How would the Author's Guild react if it had been Amazon, rather than Google, who had done this?



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Originally Posted by khalleron
the contention is about 'orphan' works, which have little to no monetary value by definition, so I'm more likely to come down on Google's side than not.
It's not just about "orphaned" works (i.e. where the rights holder cannot be located), it's also about works that are merely out of print but the rights holders are still available. If you don't want Google to sell your out of print book, instead of Google contacting you and asking your permission (like every other retailer/distributor is required to do), you have to know what they're planning and tell them not to do it. Otherwise you're stuck at a payment rate and distribution method that you did not choose or negotiate.

As the author Christopher Buckley said on this very topic: “Whenever I hear capitalism proclaiming noble motives, something makes me check my wallet.”
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