Friday, September 11, 2009

What's Really Wrong with the Google "Settlement"

I've just been reading Register of Copyrights Marybeth Peters' statement to the Judiciary Committee on the Google Book Settlement. You can, and should, read it here, especially if you have or contemplate having works in print. This involves Google's plan to illegally digitize every book, in or out of print, it can lay its hands on through major library collections, particularly those at colleges and universities. (As I recall, my college library didn't have much of a fiction or comic book collection, but these things change and at least some colleges have huge collections of graphic novels or the papers of science fiction writers.)

I opted out of the settlement for myself and the spousal unit a couple of weeks ago. I have long believed that requiring me to opt out, rather than requiring Google, Amazon, or other similar profit-making entities to individually contact and negotiate with a copyright owner AS THE LAW REQUIRES is an abomination. I am very happy to do it in this case because I can chose to sue them at any time I find they have ignored my wishes. Based on the number of other people I know who have opted out, this should make the company aware that lawsuits loom on the horizon. Finding out that Marybeth Peters believes the settlement usurps Congress' Constitutional right to make law related to copyright makes me do the dance of joy.

If you haven't opted out of the Google settlement, it may now be too late. But it probably isn't too late to let your Congressperson know that you object to the courts stepping in and depriving you of your control over your copyrights. How many of you with published works got a notice of this? If you aren't a member of a creators' trade association, I'll bet it has slipped you right by. I recommend you look into joining ASMP, APA, GAG, SFWA, the Authors Guild or another, similar, group so you won't be left out in the dark.