Somebody tell me what's going on with Google. Apparently they are pushing for the legal right to own every out-of-print book, and everything attached to them, for every book that was published before Jan. 5th of this year. Every book!

An author who has a book out has to contact Google to inform them they do not wish to give up their rights.

How does this affect POD authors? And if this is a bad deal (which sounds to me, it is) why haven't big publishers and other writers been yelling about this?

Got any answers?

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Google is evidence that George Orwell wasn't worried enough.....
Here's the crux of the matter. Does rigthts to a book after the first rights to a publisher is given up, go back to the author or not? If they automatically go back to the author, how can Google claim them?

I had a book published in '81. I was informed by the publishing house they had given up all their rights and I now had them. So how does Google, basically, steal them from me?
Yes, I just went around and around on this deal with my agent. I'm not sure that Author's Guild got a good deal. The very idea that I have to fill out forms and file my wishes to keep the bastards from stealing my books is outrageous. On advice, I chose to stay in the settlement but refused any and all permission for future use of any of my books.
I'm told, I'm to get about 60 bucks that way. Arrgh! But if I don't sign, I have to go to court against them.

And by the way, the idea that they use the pirated books to get you publicity is hogwash. Just how many people will buy your books because they've read excerpts on Google Books? You can post excerpts yourself.

Where is the Supreme Court when you need them? There was never any question about this breaking copy right.
Here's another question that hasn't be answered; where are the big publishing houses on this issue? Google's attempts to take the rights of out-of-print novels clearly threatens the back lists of major houses and their authors. Adding the on-going legal battles Amazon is having with POD publishers on how POD books are published, and what you have are two giant bullies literately trying to take over the publsihing world.

But you don't hear a squeak from Penguin or anyone else. Why?
The last I heard it was back in court (March 23/2008). I wish I still had the link.
I think the book publishers (and authors) have been overreacting to this. The main idea is that Google scans and indexes the content of books, and shows snippets in search results, but does nothing approaching full presentation or republication. It's very much akin to what they do with web sites. I work on a major web site, and Google has all our content, but they treat it appropriately and drive a major percentage of our traffic. We can be located in myriad ways because they've indexed our full-text. Gurus have quipped that Google is the only web site that purposely wants to send users away. I think this is making a mountain out of a molehill, and seeing something as a threat that is really an opportunity.
Google makes money from this. I make nothing. And how would you like it if they published the solution to your mystery?
Google makes money on Crimespace.ning.com, and so does Ning. We make nothing. Yet Crimespace is valuable to us. Not all value resolves in money. If you don't view yourself as a user of Google's search engine when your content is exposed in it, that confuses me. The challenge these days isn't a content challenge -- we're out of the age of scarcity -- but a marketing challenge -- we're into the age of saturation and having to rise above to be seen. Google has a target on its back because it's so big and well-known, but I think the books economy is actually improved by this.
I don't need GoogleBooks to have my name appear on Google's search engine. I mean it when I say that I do not benefit from GoogleBooks. I do benefit from Crimespace, not only because it puts me on Google search, but also because because I meet people in the business. Furthermore, I have control over what gets on Crimespace.
Andrew--maybe you're right. But look at it this way. Suppose you were the family of Even Hunter (Ed McBain). How many books did Hunter right using McBain as an alias? Or the family of Edgar Rice Burroughs. If you don't participate with Google you lose out on any out-of-print books profits. If you do participate, apparently you only get a minimal amount. Far less than what a publisher would give you if they decided to re-issue the novels.

At least that's the way I read it.
I guess the way I see this is that this might remove the "if" from consideration -- a publisher won't have to decide "if" they want to re-issue the novels. They'll be re-issued in fact and always, so while the money may or may not be on a percentage basis more or less than a publisher might offer, 100% of Zero is still Zero. I'd rather have 30% of a definite thing than 100% of an "if."

Of course, much of the agreement is theoretical. The infrastructure to make it really happen is years away, and a lot could change. But even as it stands, I see some benefits to readers and authors.
I see no benefit to authors and lots of benefit to Google. I think it's a travesty that they can "claim" the rights to my work unless I expressly tell them they can't--retention of rights by the author unless otherwise assigned is one of the basic tenets of copyright law, and the founding principle of the author publisher relationship. Nobody gets rights to my stuff a) unless I says so, AND B) unless they pay me an amount I agree to. The whole business is clearly a giant property-grab by Google, and just as clearly illegal, regardless of whatever fake "settlement" the Author's Guild has signed off on. Google books should work like this: if you want to be on it, sign up. If you don't, don't. None of this "we're using your stuff and you can't stop us" bullshit.

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