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.
“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.