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Questions Linger Over Google Book Rights Registry 107

Posted by kdawson
from the disintermediation-writ-large dept.
We've discussed the fallout from Google's settlement with the Authors Guild a few times already. Now the issue is made pointed again by a Wall Street Journal editorial claiming that the settlement will ruin a functioning copyright system if it is finally ratified, as expected, in June by a federal court. Reader daretoeatapeach writes: "In the US this will establish a Book Rights Registry where authors can opt-in to 63% of the revenues of each book, the rest going to Google. While previously Amazon had cornered the market on e-books, Google's partnership with Sony will create a serious dent: 500,000 books to Amazon's 250,000. Though Google is currently only releasing the books that are in the public domain, they ultimately plan to sell the 7 million e-books they've scanned (and counting). This raises a lot of questions about the future of publishing: Do we want only one company (e.g. Google) controlling access to information? Should publishers get a cut of the money, at least as long as their book is being scanned? Will broader access to trade journals affect their relationship and reliance on libraries? If, in the future, more authors opt out of the traditional publishing model, when will this hit the 'recession-proof' book industry? And has the publishing industry learned any lessons from MP3s?"
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Questions Linger Over Google Book Rights Registry

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  • Is Google willing to sell me a dead tree copy of the book? If not, I'm not interested.
    • Re:Hummm. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Assmasher (456699) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @08:39AM (#27400473) Journal

      I'm sure they'll have a 'print on demand' option some day. Google is doing what it always tries to do. Cut out all the middle men, in this case 'publishers.' Now,there are services a publisher provides that will continue to be needed but the 'publishing' business will be changed forever.

      • Re:Hummm. (Score:4, Insightful)

        by h4rm0ny (722443) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @08:54AM (#27400605) Journal

        They're doing a bit more than just cutting out the middle men. I'm fine with that if it means that authors can sell directly to their fans without having to go through anther company. But there are big problems with what Google are doing. It's "opt-out" meaning that unless you are careful, Google will start selling your books whether you want them to or not. There are going to be a lot of books Google get their hands on that the author or their agent wouldn't want them to. This particularly applies on the international market. And keep in mind that Google are international. If an author doesn't have rights to a work in the USA for some reason, they'll find Google snapping it up and selling it. Aside from the moral issue of Google selling other people's work unless they take all the necessary steps to stop each work, the effect on the market will be a negative one. You put far, far too much power in the hands of a few small companies.
        • Oh, I see, you've written so many books there's no possible way you can remember them all to fill out a web form for each one.

          I'm sorry, if you don't care enough to opt out, then ALL HUMANS SHOULD GET THE INFO. No more of this, "It's mine, you can't have it, I don't care if I'm not using it, I'd rather it was wasted just so I can hoard it."

          As long as Google is not the EXCLUSIVE stealer of info, so other companies can swoop in and ALSO distribute unclaimed works, this doesn't make one company too stro
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by PhilHibbs (4537)

            Oh, I see, you've written so many books there's no possible way you can remember them all to fill out a web form for each one.

            So far, Google is the only company doing this. But what if another company starts doing this in China, another one in Russia, another one in South America, another one in South Africa, one in Israel, etc., how many web forms in how many languages are you prepared to fill in for each of your books? You go on from saying how simple it is to then say that other companies should be able to get into the same game, but you don't seem to have thought it through.

            • So far, Google is the only company doing this. But what if another company starts doing this in China, another one in Russia, another one in South America, another one in South Africa, one in Israel, etc., how many web forms in how many languages are you prepared to fill in for each of your books? You go on from saying how simple it is to then say that other companies should be able to get into the same game, but you don't seem to have thought it through.

              Much easier than tracking down every single unauthor

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Comboman (895500)
          It's "opt-out" meaning that unless you are careful, Google will start selling your books whether you want them to or not.

          The problem with an opt-in system is that with the current near-perpetual copyright terms, there are lots of books that are still under copyright but long out-of-print (or worse, out-of-print and publisher out-of-business) with no way to contact the author (if they are still alive) or even determine who the current copyright holder is.

          • Re:Hummm. (Score:4, Insightful)

            by mrchaotica (681592) * on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @11:31AM (#27402737)

            No, that's exactly why opt-in is good -- if the copyright holder can't be bothered to identify himself, why should he still retain the privilege of controlling the book?

            Of course, opt-out with short copyright terms would be better...

            • by Chyeld (713439)

              Um. Your first statement makes about as much sense as saying, "Yes, 1+1 = 2, thus 1+2= 2!"

              The point is, under an opt-in system, a work that is 'lost' is lost till someone can prove its in the public domain. Under an opt-out system, a work that is 'lost' is returned to the public, with the owner having the option of coming back and resuming control.

              I think the real problem here is that most creators forget they didn't create in a vaccum. Your works were created with you standing on the backs of everyone that

              • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                by mrchaotica (681592) *

                Um. Your first statement makes about as much sense as saying, "Yes, 1+1 = 2, thus 1+2= 2!"

                Wow, you're right! That's because I accidentally wrote "opt-in" when I meant "opt-out." Oops! Corrected version:

                No, that's exactly why [opt-out] is good -- if the copyright holder can't be bothered to identify himself, why should he still retain the privilege of controlling the book?

            • by duhjim (733407) *
              Maybe the author is deeply depressed, or mentally ill in some way.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Chyeld (713439)

          "opt-out" meaning that unless you are careful, Google will start selling your books whether you want them to or not.

          and by this you mean "I'd like to redefine what is actually happening to the most FUD worthy version possible."

          Here is the reality of what they are doing:

          In-copyright and in-print books
          In-print books are books that publishers are still actively selling, the ones you see at most bookstores. This agreement expands the online marketplace for in-print books by letting authors and publishers turn

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by j-beda (85386)
            The Book Rights Registry would be useful for anyone planning on starting a similar service - authors need only opt out in one place.
    • The Internet Archive does that. [archive.org] Although not on a very large scale.

      The print-on-demand industry has, I think, made a positioning error. They produce cheap paperbacks at hardcover prices. What's needed is a high-quality hardcover binding machine as part of the print-on-demand process. The actual manufacturing cost of binding a book is about $1-$2, but the markup on hardcovers is much higher. Lulu.com now does hardcovers, but they all look exactly the same, all with the same dimensions and bound in pla

  • paper (Score:5, Insightful)

    by spandex_panda (1168381) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @08:11AM (#27400275)
    Well I still like paper books. I find it far easier to read if it is printed, I can't even read more than a page or two of a pdf before I print it out... let alone a whole bloody book!
    • That's true. And the main reason is that most displays are simply not high-quality to enough to offer you the reading experience that paper gives you. However, that's changing: high-quality displays that are thin enough to roll up are in the works and some are even available now, albeit for a high cost.

      I suspect that one day we will do most of our reading online.

      • That's true. And the main reason is that most displays are simply not high-quality to enough to offer you the reading experience that paper gives you. However, that's changing: high-quality displays that are thin enough to roll up are in the works and some are even available now, albeit for a high cost.

        I've been wanting an ebook reader for the longest time. I actually realized in high school that a reflective instead of emissive display was the pilotal tech missing... (Before I heard about e-ink.)

        But most current readers are either tiny screens or underpowered feature- or processing-wise. But I hope to eventually have a DRM-free O'Reilly zoo with me on my commute... One can dream. :)

        Good ebook matrix:
        http://wiki.mobileread.com/wiki/E-book_Reader_Matrix [mobileread.com]

        • Books shouldn't need a heavy duty processor, that would require heavy batteries and hobble the battery life. And it's usually not necessary, at the moment, the limiting factor is usually the page refresh.

          • Books shouldn't need a heavy duty processor

            Books? No.

            Content that can be displayed on paper? Yes.

            Think in the lines of PDF:s, vector graphics, doodles (stylus based touchscreen tech to draw), Wikipedia browsing, etc...

            What is needed is a power management scheme smart enough to kick in a heavy duty processor for drawing a new page, and having a really tiny power draw when you are devouring content.

            Maybe asymmetrical multicore prosessors are needed, who knows... But I still think it makes no sense to limit a device as versatile as an ebook reader to j

            • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

              by Anonymous Coward

              E-ink uses no power after a page load. You can turn the device completely off and still read.

              • by Zerth (26112)

                Well, except for the ones that clear the screen and replace it with some author's picture when you turn it off.

                *cough*Kindle*cough*

        • I actually realized in high school that a reflective instead of emissive display was the pilotal tech missing... (Before I heard about e-ink.)

          Yup, my old and dead Psion Revo had a transflective screen, so the more ambient light there was, the better it got -- just like paper (but, naturally, not as hi-res). I read a good deal of books on that thing I burned through Borroughs' Mars-trilogy while on the bus); it's very adequate as an e-book reader, and certainly cheaper than what's "modern" on the market right now.
          Other than that, yes, a device that only needs power (and cpu time) to "flip the page" is definitely the future.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by mysticgoat (582871)

        Even with screens of excellent quality, I prefer a book-like format to my computer for reading. The computer screen locks me into one posture, one particular lighting set-up, and a very narrow range of viewing distances. With a book, I can easily vary all of these conditions even as I read, and I find that I do so, constantly. I might spend an evening reading for pleasure (currently re-reading LOTR). But I'm changing my position, or the angle of the book to the lighting, or how far I'm holding it from my fa

    • Re:paper (Score:4, Insightful)

      by jsmiith (1274436) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @08:30AM (#27400411)
      That depends on the type of book you are reading. For reference, text searching is indespensable, but for just plain old reading I'll never give up my printed books.
      • by swillden (191260)

        That depends on the type of book you are reading. For reference, text searching is indespensable, but for just plain old reading I'll never give up my printed books.

        Have you ever tried reading on an electronic book reader? Not a laptop, or a cellphone, but a purpose-designed device, like a Kindle, or even the venerable Rocket e-Book? And have you done it for long enough that the device "disappears", just as the mechanical aspects of turning pages do?

        I have, and I really dislike reading fiction on paper. So much so that I won't do it unless the book is both unavailable electronically and *highly* recommended by someone I trust. Even then that's not always enough.

        • by jsmiith (1274436)
          For casual reading where I can read in only one direction(from the front to the back, no skipping around) a kindle or similar device is very enticing. However, what about when I read a textbook or a technical book? More often than not I am trying to connect several similar concepts and have a finger or two marking my place as I rapidly switch between sections. How can I do that on a electronic device?
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by swillden (191260)

            More often than not I am trying to connect several similar concepts and have a finger or two marking my place as I rapidly switch between sections. How can I do that on a electronic device?

            An electronic device is superior for that usage as well. First, it'll let you set any number of bookmarks, which you can jump between easily. Not quite as easily as with your fingers stuck in sections, but for that sort of use there's the "back" and "forward" buttons. On my Rocket e-Book reader there are some configurable soft-buttons on the touchscreen, and I set two of them to jump forward and back much the way forward and back icons work in your web browser. I can go to one bookmark, then another, th

    • For the most part... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ActusReus (1162583)

      Generally speaking, I very much prefer paper books too... and can't see ever switching over to a Kindle or any other sort of e-reader.

      However, the one advantage that e-books have over the real thing is that I can't throw my feet up on my cubicle desk and read a paper book... but I CAN spend all day reading a PDF (and/or Slashdot), and it looks like I'm working.

      Since I spend a quarter-to-a-third of my life sitting at the office, working jobs that involve 10% programming work and 90% being held up by ineffici

    • by samael (12612) *

      This is certainly true of LED screens.

      E-ink, on the other hand, I find as easy to read as paper, and when reading in short bursts I find it significantly handier, if for no other reason than it remembers exactly where I was, rather than me spending 30 seconds working out exactly where I was.

    • Well I still like paper books. I find it far easier to read if it is printed, I can't even read more than a page or two of a pdf before I print it out...

      Enter Amazon, and the Kindle! I soooooooooooooooooooo want one. The display quality is absofrickinlutely awesome for ebooks. The guy next to me on my last chicago-nashville flight had one and I got to -touch- it.. Ok, That sounds a little weird. Suffice it to say that after a brief in-person kindle experience I am now a convert.

      Amazon: You need to find somebody to show these off. The pictures really do not do it justice. ... Back to the OP, this is just another step in the evolution of publishing, qu

    • Well I still like paper books.

      Good for you. Coincidentally, when TV first appeared, a lot of people preferred radio to it. There's nothing wrong - why change one's habits for no good reason? - but with time, the overall trend will become clear. I do not think paper books will go away, but I suspect they will become luxury items in the next 10-20 years - and you'll be paying quite a bit extra for the "feel of paper".

  • Publish or Perish (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dattaway (3088) * on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @08:16AM (#27400299) Homepage Journal

    The publisher who makes the effort to put material on the most widely read medium always prevails. Looks like google is doing what the dead tree publishers refuse to do.

    • The publisher who makes the effort to put material on the most widely read medium always prevails. Looks like google is doing what the dead tree publishers refuse to do.

      Assuming ebooks are the most widely read medium. I don't think that's anywhere nearly the case yet. I think a billion books are published a year, and I haven't heard about a million of the readers being made in the last decade. Right now, it's still in the novelty stage, not mass adoption stage.

    • by elrous0 (869638) *
      More than likely, what the dead tree publishers COULDN'T do. You're talking an industry that's fractured into a huge number of all-over-the-map publishers (incl. tiny micro-presses, university presses, vanity publishers, etc.) and staffed by people who often know very little about e-publishing or marketing. A third-party (like Google or Amazon) was likely necessary in this case. I'm just surprised Amazon hasn't stepped more up to the plate on this one. It seems like they've made a lot of ill-advised e-publi
      • The Kindle is not restricted to purchased books; you can upload your own books in multiple formats.
        • by maxume (22995)

          He probably means that Amazon would benefit from actually having a service that published and publicized public domain content for the Kindle.

          Basically, he wants pink unicorns, I don't think Amazon is making much profit on the hardware, so making less on the hardware and eating away at book sales is a bit unlikely.

        • by cdrguru (88047)

          Amazon has quite a lot of free books - as in zero cost - available on their site for the Kindle. They are taking up space on their system and being managed identically to revenue-producing books. This means you can delete it from the device and it is considered "archived".

          Amazon is also making quite a few recent books available at zero cost as well. Most of this is a marketing technique but the result is free content.

          The Kindle isn't anywhere near as locked-down as you seem to think. You can go to many

    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Yes, but how can this work? For any existing book the dead-tree publisher will have an exclusivity agreement with the author. As a writer, you don't get an advance from the publisher and the option to sell your work to someone else.

      Regardless of any agreement between Google and the Writer's Guild, authors are bound by their existing contracts with publishers.

      In other words, Google has negotiated a deal with authors via the Writers Guild, but what they need is the publishers' permission. Which they haven'

      • by j-beda (85386)
        I think that at least some (possibly many, or most) publishing contracts revert the copyright to the author if/when the publisher takes it off the "books in print" list, or some limited time after that.
  • OH NOES! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Thanshin (1188877) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @08:23AM (#27400353)

    "the settlement will ruin a functioning copyright system"

    I suppose he's implying the current copyright system will be unaffected, right?

    Right?

    • by swillden (191260)

      I suppose he's implying the current copyright system will be unaffected, right?

      Dude... funniest thing I've read all week. Thanks!

  • Suspicious (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Andr T. (1006215) <andretaff@noSPam.gmail.com> on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @08:31AM (#27400419)

    Ok, I think the guy from WSJ has some kind of a point, but...

    We already have a good system. It's called the system of private property and free contract, designed for dispersed, autonomous individuals -- not command-and-control centers.

    I don't know the situation in the US, but in Brazil we have 2 or 3 publishers that hold 95% of the market. That doesn't seem to me much different from 'comand and control centers'.

    • I'm WildlyGuessing* that it's only 8-10 publishers holding 75% of the market here in the US, which really isn't all that much better either.

      But more importantly is the essay on this page - Baen Free Library - which talks about the limits of a 1-man op and volunteers. But if Google is doing it, and they can get Pros, that might open collaborations.

      http://www.baen.com/library/ [baen.com]

      *Wild Guesses get to be semi-right, but are exempt from CitationPlease snarks.

      • I'd be surprised if it's as high as 8-10. Simon & Schuster, Random House, Penguin Putnam, HarperCollins, and Holtzbrinck seem to have the market pretty well cornered between the five of them.
      • by swillden (191260)

        But more importantly is the essay on this page - Baen Free Library - which talks about the limits of a 1-man op and volunteers.

        A one-company operation. Baen isn't some one-man, fly-by-night show. They're a serious publisher you'll find on the shelves of every Barnes and Noble, Borders, etc. It looks like Del Rey is working on their own version of Baen's Webscriptions system, and may follow suit with the Free Library idea as well... because it increases sales, both dead-tree and electronic!

    • by langelgjm (860756)

      Like a lot of op-eds in the WSJ, I think the author is missing a lot of things.

      She argues that getting people to find and assert the copyrights on the works Google is scanning is too burdensome, turning everyone into data-entry slaves for Google. But this is the exact problem Google is facing - the copyright status of so much stuff it wants to scan is unknown. Now, who is in a better position to determine whether work X is copyrighted and who owns the copyright, Google, or the individual owner of that work?

  • by 8tim8 (623968) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @08:33AM (#27400435) Journal

    >Should publishers get a cut of the money, at least as long as their book is being scanned?

    Definitely. Especially if the book has been out of print for decades and the publisher has no plans, and no interest, in every publishing fresh copies. We need to keep the revenue going to the people it's always gone to!

    • by RobBebop (947356)

      Publishes are like newspaper. They're a dying breed, but that doesn't mean they don't perform a valuable service. Currently, when a publisher decides to green-light a book it typically comes with an assurance to readers that a large upfront cost will be expended to produce a professional product. That is to say, publishing houses are one measure that helps ensure quality.

      Qualitatively, if Google can manage to figure out a way to assure quality without traditional publishers then they'll do well and fo

      • I think the "throwing shit against the wall to see what sticks" method would be awesome, provided they let you read the first 20 or so pages. With a good user rating system I really see no need for publishers.
        • by RobBebop (947356)

          jessica_alba,

          Wouldn't you be pissed if all an author had to do was write 20 good pages and then sold you a shitty e-book copy of the rest of their book for $5? You'd slam their ratings and leave negative feedback so the next person doesn't fall for the same trap... but the damage would have been done.

          Similarly, a really good author can be pushed into obscurity if he gets slammed by a couple of reviews and ratings from people who have personal vendettas (for whatever reason) against him.

          Maybe these a

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      If Google is just providing the text, that's one thing. But if they're providing an exact page image, than they should be paying the publisher for their graphic design and page layout work.
    • by julesh (229690)

      >Should publishers get a cut of the money, at least as long as their book is being scanned?

      Definitely. Especially if the book has been out of print for decades and the publisher has no plans, and no interest, in every publishing fresh copies. We need to keep the revenue going to the people it's always gone to!

      Actually, most publishers have a term in their contracts with their authors that allows the rights to revert to the author if the book is out of print for some period of time, usually about 5 years,

  • I am not worried about Google controlling all these ebooks since they seem to be giving them away - at least the out-of-copyright ones. See these articles for examples. I'm not sure how they will deal with spreading around IN-copyright books. Google gives away half a million books to Sony eBook Storeâ¦. challenge to Amazon?? [technews.am] Academic libraries pave a new path away from Google [betanews.com]
  • Maybe it's just me, but the tech level required to read a book online is pretty high. Add to that the power consumption.

    And the paranoia of knowing the ebook I read today can be changed tomorrow to reflect a different view.

    Online books are a great resource but the paper and ink industry must continue at any cost. Scholarly journal publishers will have to seriously rethink their business model. Online out of print books is a tremendous service to the public. Out of print books almost should be required t

    • by jetxee (940811)

      Maybe it's just me, but the tech level required to read a book online is pretty high.

      It's a matter of distribution of e-books being mostly illegal in the western world. When the means of distribution is not effectively suppressed, it is used by almost everybody. See, for example, http://lib.rus.ec/ [lib.rus.ec] (Russian e-books' site).

      Add to that the power consumption.

      You need some light to read a paper book too.

      But given the typical price of a paper book $15, you can consume as much as 150 kWh if you don't buy it. That

  • by KlaymenDK (713149) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @09:13AM (#27400785) Journal

    Should publishers get a cut of the money, at least as long as their book is being scanned?

    Hell yes. How would anything else not be piracy? In fact, maybe skip the publishers but ensure the authors get a cut -- since when is author royalties are an "opt in" thing?

    I don't get how Google can get away with what seems to be large-scale professional copyright infringement (and please don't say it's because it's large scale and professional).

    • How would anything else not be piracy?

      When it's the settlement of a class-action lawsuit. Members of a class traditionally have to opt-out.

    • A casual survey of the books on my desk:

      • Copyright 1994 Addison-Wesley company
      • Copyright 1994, 1985 Addison-Wesley company
      • Copyright 2008 Pearson Education, Inc
      • Copyright 1995-2005 Tobias Oetiker and Contributers
      • Copyright 2005 SWsoft, Inc
      • Copyright 2000 NEC America, Inc

      Looks to me like the standard practice is to transfer ownership of the IP to the publisher in exchange for a percentage of any future profits. Once the creator of the work does that, they no longer own the work and cannot sell it again to someon

      • by cdrguru (88047)

        I'd say that you probably have a bunch of technical books, and technical book deals very often assign the copyright to the publisher.

        Beginning authors are likely to have to assign copyright to the publisher as well, unless they have an agent and a really hot property. Stephen King might have had to assign the copyright for Carrie (his first book).

        I'd bet anything that for Cell (a recent Stephen King book) he did not have to assign copyright, wasn't asked and it just never, ever came up.

        • You are correct. I do have a lot of technical books on my desk. This week, most of them happen to be LaTeX references.

          The point I was trying to make: the author is not always the copyright holder. The copyright holder is the one that can assign rights under a scheme like this, not the work creator.

          If I'm going for recreational reading, I'll go to a bookstore - book shopping is part of the relaxation.

          I'm more likely to buy a technical book in electronic form, because "I need it now" and none of the local

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by swillden (191260)

      In fact, maybe skip the publishers but ensure the authors get a cut -- since when is author royalties are an "opt in" thing?

      As I understand it, that's exactly how it works. Authors get royalties for books read by subscribers of the "Google Reader" program. Google will also provide links to Amazon, etc., for those who want to easily buy printed copies of in-print books. Authors do have to opt in to collect the money, because Google isn't going to try to figure out where to send the checks.

      Also, keep in mind that Google will not publish in-print books at all unless the author opts in. It's only out-of-print books where the s

      • by mick129 (126225)

        FYI, Google Reader is a RSS reader, and has nothing to do with books.

        • by swillden (191260)
          Hmm. I don't remember what the other thing is called, then. It's a (planned) subscription program, where you pay a flat monthly fee for unlimited access to the full text of books.
  • Bad Summary (Score:2, Insightful)

    by secretcurse (1266724)
    I know, I know, everyone always bitches about a bad summary, but this one's really bad. The linked article doesn't really claim that authors have a "functioning copyright system." The article argues that authors won't get a good deal if they give up their individual contract negotiation rights for a one-size-fits-all Google deal. Anyone who thinks (here in America anyway) we have a "functioning system of copyright" hasn't been paying too much attention for the last several years...
  • Google's monopoly (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Netssansfrontieres (214626) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @09:33AM (#27401041) Journal

    While Google is protesting Microsoft's de facto monopoly of desktop client software, it is working hard to create a de jure and de facto monopoly for itself in an important area of content. In the proposed settlement, Google is the ONLY legal site for ALL [in copyright but out of print] printed content.

    How is this a good thing?

    Apologies for the cowardly anonymity, not my normal style, but there's plenty to worry about here.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by keriaan (212578)

      No need to apologise, we understand, if Google ever found out your Slashdot ID there'd be serious consequences...

    • I wonder about this every time I see the recurring "Haha, well, let's see what they do when Google stops indexing them!" sentiment on Slashdot, every time some company or individual starts bickering with Google. If that's not textbook monopoly abuse, then I do not know what is.

      Granted, I do not recall Google actually ever doing that sort of thing - and kudos to them for it! - but why many /. readers think it would be totally okay for them to do that, is beyond me.

  • by langelgjm (860756) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @10:17AM (#27401627) Journal

    The aging baby boomers now flacking the settlement don't seem to understand that PDF scanning (how Google and everyone else digitizes books) isn't rocket science; it's cheap and easy. Books will be digitized without Google.

    Actually, from what I've read, scanning books on any large scale is not cheap or easy. It's a fairly expensive undertaking, involving more specialized equipment than your desktop flatbed scanner, and involves moving lots of books around, in and out of large libraries. It's not an undertaking for the faint of heart. Microsoft tried, and decided to quit. [msdn.com] Furthermore, the value of having a single large repository is greater than a bunch of fractured repositories that probably won't have a good way of connecting with one another.

  • by Bob9113 (14996) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @10:37AM (#27401891) Homepage

    That's the date by which every author and publisher in America is supposed to decide whether to "opt in," "opt out," or simply "ignore" a vast compulsory licensing scheme for the benefit of Google. Most, about 88%, are expected to "ignore." That's because they know their online display rights have value, and the last thing they want is to be herded like sheep into a giant contract commitment.

    OK, so it's an option - a new market that the author can choose to participate in, as he or she wishes?

    For private gain, the Google parties now seek to destroy the health in the system that individual bargaining preserves.

    "Seek to destroy"? It's an option - a new market option.

    Disputes will be fixed in arbitration with no access to federal courts which have often shown mercy to authors. Arbitrators will be "you sign it you eat it" line-parsing bureaucrats.

    This differs from a contract with binding-arbitration between an author and a traditional publisher how?

    If she's arguing that authors should choose to ignore, that seems reasonable. But that last bit sounds like she is claiming there is evil in allowing Google to offer the new business model. Is she an author? Maybe she is a PR person for a traditional publisher? Do I just not get it, and there actually is some new impediment inflicted upon the author here? Or is this article fishy?

  • Literary Agent Janet Reid has a rather scathing rebuttal [blogspot.com] to Chu's article which Reid (who has actually read the settlement, something Chu did not do) feels is spectacularly uninformed and incorrect. I tend to agree with Reid. (FYI, I am an author whose in copyright books were scanned by Google. I am a member of the class.)
    • by julesh (229690)

      Literary Agent Janet Reid has a rather scathing rebuttal to Chu's article which Reid (who has actually read the settlement, something Chu did not do) feels is spectacularly uninformed and incorrect. I tend to agree with Reid. (FYI, I am an author whose in copyright books were scanned by Google. I am a member of the class.)

      I tend to side with Charlie Petit [scrivenerserror.com] on this one. Petit's a copyright lawyer with years and years of experience representing writers. He knows his shit. And he's right about this one: the

      • It's interesting to read the article linked on Petit's blog, Cost Allocations and Copyright Orphans [ssrn.com], which points out that orphan works are considered from the point of view of person wanting to obtain rights to a particular orphan work. Petit appears to believe that this is contrary to the definition of copyright, which primarily defines the rights of authors. I think it merely showcases the absurd distance from the intention of the U.S. constitution that Congress has taken copyright terms. A term of 95

  • ALL HAIL THE ALMIGHTY GOOGLE! But seriously, if you have ever used the Books app it is a revolutionary way of studying, reading, searching an entire books text. I am all for it.
  • One thing I don't get:

    What about people who don't become authors until after the opt-out deadline? Suppose five years from now, I decide to write a first book. Will I be forced abide by Google's terms if I don't opt-out now? How about authors thirty years from now who haven't even been born yet?

    I think what irks me most about this settlement is the arrogance of the Author's Guild in presuming to represent all authors that ever have or ever will exist.

  • My wife is a associate of research at Duke... a nobody in the grand scheme of academia but even she has had trouble accessing her OWN research because of how certain magazines publish their material.

    Now... imagine that Google provides this in a cost matrix. Not only does it make it FAR easier to find research you need, but a whole new science appears that was all but impossible because of the fragmented way things are done.

    Some of you might be "welcome our new overlords" but when you really look at it from

  • Thats about as good as selling Kramer's videos of movies.

  • Some book publishing companies pay about 1$ per copy sold to the author, so 63% is excellent!
    This should scare publishers to the death because it basically stops them to screw over the authors in the long run...
    I am all for it!

  • ... I'm for it. Those idiots at the Journal never get anything right. Go GOOG!

  • >>Do we want only one company (e.g. Google) controlling access to information? If only there were places we could go where all the information was virtually free! These places, they could be in almost every town and America. People could take the information home - for easy access - then bring it back when they were done with it. Then maybe we could keep evil, monopolizing tyrants like Google from hoarding all our precious and rare information; public domain or no!
    • It depends on what your looking for if the Library has what your looking for and no ones taken it out for the next four weeks, Libraries are really good for some things E.g a preschool book or a romantic novel or anything where you can easily substitute one work for another. Once your requirements are outside of what a Library is good at the Idea of being able to get what you need at the drop of a hat is very attractive.

      I can imagine that authors who revise their editions on a frequent basis will find Goog

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