January 28 – February 4, 2010 Edition

ISteinbeck, Guthrie Back Google Settlement, Others Balk

NEW YORK, NY/AUTHORLINK NEWS/January 27, 2010—The families of John Steinbeck and Woody Guthrie have decided to opt in to the revised Google Book Search settlement, according to a recent report in PW. Gail Steinbeck, who initially opposed the settlement, and Arlo Guthrie, on behalf of his singer-songwriter father, the late Woody Guthrie, said they would not bring a separate lawsuit against Google. Ms. Steinbeck is the wife of the late John Steinbeck’s son, Thomas, also a novelist. Other groups, however, staunchly oppose the agreement.

In a letter to her attorneys and collaborators, Ms. Steinbeck said,  “While we continue in our belief that what Google did was an imperious act of copyright infringement, it is time to step off the battlefield and evaluate our losses and our gains. When we look at the new conditions of the revised settlement, it meets our standards of control over the intellectual properties that would otherwise remain at risk were we to stay out of the settlement.”

In April, 2009, Steinbeck led a group of authors who successfully sought to extend the opt-out deadline for authors to make a choice about the complex deal. The new opt-out deadline is January 28, 2010.

Meanwhile, opposition to the settlement continues. Author Ursula K. Le Guin, who resigned as a member of the Authors Guild for “selling authors down the river,” has submitted to the Court an online petition signed by 367 authors against the settlement. In her petition, LeGuin states:  “The Google Settlement was negotiated by the Authors Guild, without consultation with any other group of authors or American authors as a whole. The Guild cannot and does not speak for all American writers. Its settlement cannot be seen as reflecting the will or interest of any group but the Guild.

“ Three groups of American writers, the National Writers Union, the American Society of Journalists and Authors, and the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, are opposed to the settlement. So are all the signatories of this letter: professional writers, who make part or all their living from their copyrights.”

  “My husband [Thomas Steinbeck] is a member of the Authors Guild and has been for many years. In no way, do we believe that they are the enemy,” Steinbeck wrote. “It would have been next to impossible to independently herd a group of authors together to finance a lawsuit in objection to Google's reprehensible acts.”

The Google Book Search settlement agreement is the 303-page agreement reached between the Authors Guild, the Association of American Publishers and Google in October 2008 and recently revised after intervention from the Justice Department. The agreement settles a lawsuit filed against Google for “massive copyright infringement” related to the Google Books Library Project in which hundreds of thousands of titles were illegally scanned by Google.  The settlement seeks to develop revenue models to compensate authors and publishers for Google’s digital use of copyrighted books. A fairness hearing is scheduled February 18, 2010.  

Read more by searching for “Google settlement” on and on Google.