BUSINESS OF WRITING: Google settlement–what does it mean?

I don’t know exactly what it means yet, but authors whose books were scanned out of a public library and put up on Google Book Search will finally be paid. And there’ll be an electronic book registry. Perhaps this is the first step towards an electronic book industry.

“Authors, publishers, and Google announced a huge settlement deal today in their lawsuits over the scanning of millions of copyrighted books in library collections. Google has agreed to a huge payout for books that were scanned without permission, but now they’ll be allowed to scan the books legitimately. Most important, they’ll be able to put millions of books online, including those still in copyright — not just for searching and not just in snippets. There is a groundbreaking new licensing system meant to make the books as widely available as possible while protecting the authors’ copyrights and enabling them to share in the revenue. Some will differ, but personally I think this is a wonderful outcome, for readers and for authors alike.”–James Gleick

See more here and at

And the full story from

An excerpt follows:

On Tuesday, publishers, authors[,] and Google announced they had reached an agreement in their dispute over the digitization of books in copyright. There will be a payment from Google, a new book rights registry, increased access to scanned books, particularly through colleges and public libraries, and full print-on-demand available — after approval by a U.S. District Court.

Google will pay $125 million, $45.5 million of which is lawyer’s fees. Of the remaining funds, the Authors Guild will get more than half — $45 million — to settle its 2005 lawsuit to stop Google from scanning books that were still under copyright. Google’s position was that by displaying only a few lines of text at a time, their actions were “fair use”; under the new agreement, the parties can agree to disagree, because copyright holders will be paid.

There will be an initial payment and later profit sharing. On the Authors Guild website, Roy Blount Jr. writes:

“There’ll be at least $45 million for authors and publishers whose in-copyright books and other copyrighted texts have been scanned without permission. If your book was scanned and you own all the rights, you’ll get a small share of this, at least $60, depending on how many rightsholders file claims.”

Which raises some questions: How many authors “own all the rights” to their work? How many still share the rights with publishers? Don’t the rights shift, depending on time and sales, according to different contracts? Well, there are provisions for keeping track of such pesky details.

$34.5 million will go to set up a new books rights registry. It’ll track who owns what, who should be paid for what, whose work is being accessed and/or printed, and make further payments based on usage and access.

See it all at

If your book was digitized, here’s where to go to fill out a claim form:

Oh, and Amazon has backed down about letting the Kindle II read aloud to you. They’ve disabled text-to-speech except where a flag is set in the source material allowing it. I think that’s kind of silly, but then I’m not in the writing game to make money anyway (which is a dang good thing, as I’m not making any! *Grin*) Mostly that would be used by the visually impaired, wouldn’t it? (But then I fall asleep when being read to–can’t concentrate on it.) I feel for them (having had visual infirmities for years) and always think that it’s good to make it easier on them. Anyhow, the union or whoever has intimidated Amazon into disabling the feature, and if you’re one of the people who had a reason for wanting them to, it’ll make you happy. . . . *shrug*


Author: shalanna

Shalanna: rhymes with "Madonna" and "I wanna," and is not a soundalike with "Hosanna" or "Sha-Na-Na." Aging hippie with long hair, husband, elderly mother, and yappy Pomeranian. I've been writing since I could hold a crayon. I started with fiction, which Mama said was "lying." “Don’t tell stories,” she would admonish, in Southern vernacular. “That's all in your imagination!” When grownups said this, they were not approving. So, shamed, I stopped telling stories for a few years--rather, I stopped letting anyone read them. I'm married to a fellow computer nerd who doesn't really like hearing about writing, but who reads sf/fantasy and understands the creative drive. I'm actually a nonconformist/hippie still wearing bluejeans and drop earrings and the Alice-in-Wonderland hair with headbands and sandals. Favorite flavor is chocolate/orange, favorite color is either Dreamsicle orange (cantaloupe) or bubble-gum pink, favorite musical is either Bye Bye Birdie, Rocky Horror, or The Producers . . . wait, I also love The Music Man. Is this getting way too specific and irrelevant yet? Obvious why I don't sell a ton of flash fiction, isn't it? To define oneself, I always say, it is good to make a list. How about a booklist? Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird Frank and Ernestine Gilbreth, Cheaper by the Dozen C.S.Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (all the Narnia books) J.R.R.Tolkien,The Hobbit/LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy Gail Godwin, The Odd Woman F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby J. D. Salinger, Catcher in the Rye (before dismissing it, actually read it) George Orwell, 1984 Kurt Vonnegut, Cat's Cradle Donna Tartt, The Secret History Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn James Allen, As A Man Thinketh Mark Winegardner, Elvis Presley Boulevard James Thurber, My Life and Hard Times The Wizard of Oz, L. Frank Baum Winnie-the-Pooh/House at Pooh Corner, A. A. Milne Peter Pan, J. M. Barrie The KJV and NIV Bible (each translation has its glories)

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