Thursday, September 03, 2009

Google Book Settlement -- Choice Made & Deadline Extended


Am quite desperately behind in this particular blog -- I have a huge backlog of topics to discuss, but lately appear to have run out of time to discuss them. Will try to remedy over the next little while.

In the meantime, today I finally decided to opt out of the Google settlement.

What is the Google Book Settlement, you ask?

HERE is a pretty good, failry recent summary of both sides of the issue.

Is it sour grapes to opt out of the noble cause of digitizing all books?

In my own case, sizeable chunks of several of my books were printed verbatim on-line, without any discussion by said printer [Google Books] with the author [me].

It was a very odd situation, when I first discovered it a couple of years ago. It continues to rankle.

And then a mass lawsuit was struck, on behalf of all the authors and publishers in the same boat as myself. What to do, what to do????

This thing has been eating at me for a long time -- opt in and get paid for the work they took of mine and put on-line without asking? Opt out because of insultingly small settlement for said work?

And what about the basic ideals behind Creative Commons? Do we not all grow when we share our work? Does not other, better art grow from the art we make and share?

Tough, tough call. I know many writers who have been struggling with it.

In the end, I opted out for the reason above, plus the general queasiness I feel with handing my work over to a giant megacorp to do with what it will. I am not opposed to sharing of work on-line and in new media, but I like to be able to have some say which bits of my stuff I share, when and with whom.

So I opted out with the proviso that they contact me, please, to discuss the works they have already displayed.

We are surfing a new, weird wave in publishing. With so much of our work now readily available on-line, will writers lose their only source of income -- storytelling -- to this brave new world which is demanding all content be available for free? Does sharing of work help spread the word, and make the storytelling stronger (and the author able to earn a living?)

I'd like to believe the latter. But for now, I want to choose what to share, where and with whom.

If you want to learn more on the opt-out, go HERE.

And by the way, the deadline has been extended...[from the Google site]:

Important Update: On September 2, 2009, because of issues with the Court's electronic filing system, the Court extended the deadline to file objections and amicus briefs from September 4, 2009 until 10:00 am Eastern Time on September 8, 2009 (see Court order). The Extended Opt-Out Deadline remains September 4, 2009. The Final Fairness Hearing is scheduled for October 7, 2009.



Dale said...

Personally, I believe copyright and creative commons licensing can co-exist side-by-side. And sharing work does not require relinquishing your rights under either license. In other words, I don't think you're a trader! :-)

And I don't think the Google decision is about supporting or not supporting openness, it's about making Google accountable for their actions and whether you support their vision of how an online digital library might be implemented. I don't have anything at stake, but given their high-handed and somewhat arrogant approach I would have probably made the same decision.

kc dyer said...

I agree with you, Dale. Sharing makes us all stronger -- but is the settlement the answer?

Thanks for your thoughts! This is a brave new world and we are left with some tough new questions to ponder.


JulianEdward said...

I think "insultingly small settlement" says it all. Google are going to have access to vast traffic and keyword data through this digital project. They should pay authors fairly. Good for you!

JulianEdward said...

Just listened to Bill Thompson (on BBC) arguing very coherently that Google should not hold a monopoly - not even for a few years. He thinks - open discussion, public policy, open standards. Others should be able to digitize not just Google. Questions also about the quality of Google's scanning.