In case you’ve been living under a rock, there is a pending class-action settlement involving authors / publishers and Google. Basically, the lawsuit was brought by authors and publishers who claimed Google violated their copyrights when it scanned books and featured them, or portions thereof, online without permission of the copyright holders. Of course, Google denies the claims (snicker) even though the books are still featured at books.google.com!
Anyway, what’s in it for you? Well, you get to decide. You can either opt-in and get $60 per book (read the fine print!) if you are the sole copyright holder of a book. Or, you can opt-out (which means you can sue Google later if you want to).
You can fill out an online form to opt-in or opt-out here:
What did I do? I opted out. Why? Because I vehemently disagree with Google’s actions. They should have requested permission first, instead of boldly scanning and publishing books online without permission. Who do they think they are?! I have always fought for writers’ rights and I don’t negotiate with companies that do dirty business like this. When I complained to Google about one of my books being featured, I was given the run-around by an attorney, who refused to remove the text at my request. Part of the text they published was from one of my books, but was not written by me (they published pages from articles by contributors). Me, nor my publisher (St. Martin’s Press) and certainly not Google had permission to republish that material. But, it seems their we’re-so-big-we’re-above-the-law attitude made them do it anyway.
Google should NOT have ignored copyright law, and scanned and published books it did not own. It’s that simple. Again, I will not “settle” with them under any circumstances.
Finally, what you may not understand is the big, profitable picture. Google scans and publishes YOUR book on THEIR website – their ad-based website. They are making money on YOUR book. By scanning books without permission, they had FREE content with which to sell accompanying ad space. For example, on the pages where my book (which is writing-related) appears on books.google.com, there are ads for two vanity publishers. Google is making money on MY content that they published without MY permission!
That said, I think it’s important that all authors who want money from Google go get it. The more authors who ignore this, the less Google has to pay for their ridiculous actions. So, please go to the settlement link TODAY and either request payment or opt out.