Aug 20 – 27, 2009 Edition Writers Union Opposes Google Settlement

CHICAGO, IL (August 18, 2009)–The National Writers Union, following a recent delegate meeting in Chicago, announced the organization opposes the Google Book settlement, calling it “grossly unfair to writers” and Google’s book scanning project a serious violation of copyright laws.

The proposed settlement agreement would settle the claims brought by authors and publishers against Google for its illegal digitization of in-copyright books as part of the Google Library Project and authorize Google to continue to scan and to sell online access to scanned books in exchange for certain payments to the books’ rightsholders.

NWU president Larry Goldbetter said the settlement offers a “ridiculously low” payment to writers (between $60-$300 per title), and that only $45 million of the $125,000 settlement amount, will actually go to pay writers. The NWU also believes the deal places an undue burden on writers, who must opt out of the settlement, rather than having Google ask for permission to use their content.

The organization fears the settlement could interfere with writer/publisher relationships and would unfairly bind writers to arbitration in order to solve any disputes. No mention was made of the fact that a newly-established Book Rights Registry, a sort of cop-in-the-middle between Google and rightsholders, will take up to an additional 20% away from author royalties for their refereeing services. The BRR also has the power to reject or deny authors’ and publishers’ claims and to send them on to costly BRR-run arbitration if parties cannot resolve an issue.

The Authors Guild which filed the law suit against Google together with the Association of American Publishers, argued through executive director Paul Aiken that “The settlement creates new markets for out-of-print books.” He said authors who control the rights to their out of print books will retain control to terminate those uses at any time.

The NWU wants the AAP and Authors Guild to scrap the present settlement and negotiate a new deal.

Authors and publishers have just a little over a month to decide whether to opt out of the book search copyright settlement between Google, and the Association of American Publishers (AAP) and the Authors Guild. The extended Opt-Out deadline is September 4, 2009, the date by which class members must decide whether to remain in the Settlement Class and receive the benefits of the Settlement, object to the Settlement, or opt out of the Settlement. Those wishing to remain part of the settlement must complete a Claim Form before January 5, 2010 to be eligible for a small cash payment.

A Fairness Hearing to decide whether to grant final approval of the settlement is scheduled October 7, 2009 at 10 a.m. in Courtroom 11A of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, United States Courthouse, located at 500 Pearl Street, New York, New York 10007.

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