Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Last Chance to Opt Out of Google Book Settlement
Pamela Samuelson, Professor, UC Berkeley
Posted: January 25, 2010 - Huffington Post

January 28 is the last day on which owners of copyrights in books published in the U.S., UK, Canada, and Australia can opt out or object to the proposed settlement of the Google Book Search (GBS) class action lawsuit initiated in 2005 by the Authors Guild.

There is a huge difference between opting out and objecting, and copyright owners who dislike the settlement must choose between them.

Opt-outs will not be bound by the settlement. (This does not necessarily mean that Google will not scan your books or that it will remove them from GBS; this must be separately requested.) Although opt-outs can separately sue Google for infringement, this is probably not a sensible option for most authors because of the litigation expense. Opt-outs are not precluded from later negotiating a deal with Google to make their books available through the Google Partner Program (GPP).

An advantage of filing an objection is that the judge must consider your reasons for dissatisfaction with the deal in deciding whether to approve the settlement. Some authors have objected to the GBS settlement because it calls for close monitoring of book usages without guarantees of privacy protection; some object to $60 per book as inadequate compensation for Google's past scanning; others object to the de facto monopoly that the GBS settlement would give Google to "orphan" books (i.e., those whose rights holders cannot be found).

If the judge decides that your objection has merit, this may lead to changes in the settlement. But if he rejects your objection, you will be bound by the settlement, even if it still contains terms to which you objected, and it will be too late to opt out.

Opting out is most sensible for in-print books. If you want Google to commercialize your books, do so through the GPP. If you stay in the settlement and do not become a Google partner, Google will not automatically commercialize your books because the default setting for in-print books is that "no display" will be made of their contents. You can allow Google to commercialize your in-print books by signing up with the Book Rights Registry (BRR), but you will likely earn less through BRR than through the GPP because BRR will take a nontrivial cut for its administrative fee.
The rest at Huffington Post.

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