And maybe I’ll show my ass about how much I don’t know, but dammit — I’m irritated. But I’m also more than happy to be set straight if I’m missing the point here.
Dear Authors’ Guild (or Author’s Guild or Authors Guild (Publishers Weekly’s apostrophe (or lack of one) messes me up, too)),
My understanding is that you have authors’ interests at heart. And to protect those interests, you brought a suit against Google that resulted in this agreement, and authors now have to decide whether to opt in (or not … because if we do nothing we’re automatically opted in) or opt out.
Now, to my understanding (thanks, Courtney Milan!) this settlement allows Google to scan in my books, create a big library, and distribute them to certain institutions (primarily academic, I assume, because the ability to do this is justified with the fair use argument.) Once I opt in and register and claim my books, I will then see proceeds from this. I have to say, I’m not opposed to the idea of the library itself. And to be honest, I don’t give a crap about the money.
Here’s where my objection comes in: thanks to this settlement, Google has the right to scan and distribute my work, unless I tell them “no, you can’t have that book.” This is really frustrating to me because, when I gave my publisher the right to distribute my work, I signed a freaking huge contract with them. Do you see the difference? I gave permission to my publisher. I agreed to let them distribute. The rights went from me to them.
Flow of distribution rights: Me to them.
I did not have to request some third party, who has no relation to me and with whom I never made an agreement, to NOT distribute. I was not forced to do this:
Flow of distribution rights: Them (maybe) back to me after asking.
And what gives them that distribution right? This settlement. They didn’t have this right until this settlement, which you made on behalf of all authors. How is this looking after my interests? This is a shitty settlement.
Oh, and if I opt out? That just means I can sue Google for copyright infringement. They still will scan and distribute unless I ask them not to. *headdesk*
This makes no sense to me. What is the point of this? Why wasn’t this just let go until some author brought a suit against Google and an interpretation of copyright law was applied or a new one established? Why is this an automatic opt-in? Because, to be honest, if Google had come to me and said, “We want to scan your book and put it into a library” I probably wouldn’t have cared much, because in many ways, I think this is a good idea (When I’m researching, I love being able to put in a search term, hit an excerpt, and say: oh my god I need this book and I never knew it existed.) But the right to distribute would have gone from me to them, or from my publisher to them. THAT IS MY BEST INTEREST.
But now I have to decide whether to opt in and make the best of a really shitty settlement (and figure out what the hell it means to “object”), or opt out, and at least retain my right to sue for my digital rights back if I ever want to (or can afford to).
Out of copyright and in the public domain? Fine. Still in copyright? You should have fucking asked first. If you have the capability to scan in all those books one by one, you have the capability of contacting rights holders, one by one.