18.08.09 The Bookseller
The National Writers Union (NWU) has accused the settlement, which will allow US users to search more than seven million titles online with an option to buy, as being "grossly unfair to writers". The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America also hit out at the deal. It said in a statement: "The proposed Google Book Settlement potentially creates a monopoly by granting Google excessive power to control the market for out-of-print books that are offered to the general public."
Publishers Weekly reports that the NWU claimed the settlement could damage the relationship between authors and publishers. NWU president Larry Goldbetter said: "The settlement makes assumptions about electronic rights that writers may or may not have assigned to publishers and it sets up an unfair binding arbitration process to resolve disputes between writers and publishers. These disputes must be arbitrated on a case-by-case basis. The settlement does not allow for writers, who were collectively targeted, to collectively negotiate to settle these disputes."
In response, Authors Guild executive director Paul Aiken, who helped broker the deal, said the agreement was a win for authors and readers. He said: "The settlement creates new markets for out-of-print books. Authors who control the rights to their out of print books will receive the lion's share of the revenues from the use of their works, while retaining complete control to terminate those uses at any time."
The settlement was agreed between Google, authors and publishers last year. The deal is due to be ratified in a US court in October.