Tuesday, August 11, 2009

William Morris Advises Clients to Say No to Google Settlement
By Motoko Rich in The New York Times

William Morris Endeavor, one of the largest entertainment agencies, has advised the clients of its literary department to opt out of the Google book settlement.
The settlement, of a lawsuit brought by publisher and authors who argued that Google was violating their copyright by scanning books in libraries, would give Google the right not only to digitize those books, but also sell them either as part of databases or individually. Copyright holders who agree to the settlement would have the right to dictate how Google displayed content from the books, and could ask Google not to sell them.
In a memo to clients obtained by The New York Times, William Morris advises writers to opt out of the settlement because it would “bind copyright owners in any book published prior to January 9, 2009 to its terms.” The terms of the agreement call for authors and publishers to split 63 percent of any revenue that Google generates from the sale of a digitized book either individually or in a database, as well as ad revenues from pages where an author’s work appears.
“Now they’ve got this license to sell your books at a pre-negotiated one-time royalty that you’re stuck with unless a court changes the settlement,” Eric Zohn, an attorney in business affairs at William Morris, said in an interview. “It’s like a legislative change. Under copyright law, you don’t have anything without express written consent from the copyright holder. Now the court is saying Google is free to sell your book unless you expressly tell them not to.”
Mr. Zohn said that he was advising clients to allow Google to keep their digitized books in the Google’s database so that the books may be searched. He said he had no problem with snippets of clients’ works appearing in search results, and in fact believed that such uses would be largely beneficial to authors seeking publicity for their work.
The full piece here.

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