Author’s Guild vs. Google, Deadline Approaching…

Are you a published author? If so, you may have received a notice regarding the landmark lawsuit filed by the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers against Google (famous for adopting the Hippocratic Rule, “First, do no harm” as their motto – I’ve always liked that).

In a nutshell, Google contracted with a number of universities, including the University Library of the University of Michigan, to digitally scan and create a searchable index of a subset of the books in their collection. Sounds cool, right?

The problem is, suppose you are an author of books in that collection. If Google makes the entire collection available on-line, your ability to make money from those books is gone. Thus, the lawsuit.

If you are a published author and are affected by this, you should have received received a rightsholders notice describing the lawsuit and giving you a chance to opt out so you could pursue your own claim against the company. The original notices were mailed out on January 5th, 2009.

The deadline for opting out is coming up fast. The last opt-out day os September 4th, 2009.

Me, I’ve got a number of books in the settlement and I’m staying in. First, I am a fan of Google and I believe in what they are doing. I generally don’t write for the money, and the books in question are old books that I am more than happy to share with the universe.

That said, there are plenty of folks who feel differently. Plenty. If you are on the fence, or just plain interested, here are some things to look at.

Here’s a link to the Author’s Guild resource page, a collection of links relevant to this lawsuit.

Here’s a link to the settlement agreement.

And, finally, here’s a link to Roy Blount, Jr.’s message to the Author’s Guild membership. Roy is the president of the Author’s Guild.

Interesting, no?

– Dave

Your Kindle rights as an author…

I’ve been following all the¬†brouhaha¬†between Amazon and the Authors Guild. In a nutshell, the Amazon ships with a text-to-speech feature that turns any book you buy into a slightly creepy, but free, audio book.

The Authors Guild protested this move as being unfair to authors. I believe the real reason behind this protest was the thought that this free text-to-speech would eat into the sale of audio books. While I don’t think that is true in this version of the Kindle (just try to listen to more than 3 minutes of Kindle’s text-to-speech without driving your car into a tree), the existing free text-to-speech capability sets a precedence that has significant future ramifications. In other words, when the Hugh Jackman text-to-speech Kindle ships, the audio book market might feel just collapse.

Many people have railed against Amazon for caving to the Authors Guild. I think they missed the point. I believe Amazon did exactly the right (and noble) thing by allowing authors to choose whether Kindle is allowed to text-to-speech their work. How could that be wrong? Amazon, as an author, I salute you!

– Dave