Monday, November 17, 2008

Google Pub Quiz

Seemingly why is it that so few people concerned that Google has created one rule for themselves, whist everyone else still are governed by copyright laws?
Here are ten questions to ponder against Google’s new rights registry.

We would welcome the answers to these questions:

1. An author has some 300 works spanning a number of decades and published by different parties (we know one). These are all still in copyright, but out of print and all the rights have reverted. Google acquires the books and makes them all available. Do Google pay the royalty to; the original publisher, the publisher who may have bought part of the list, the author, the author’s estate, the bank?

2. How will any party know what is in Google’s rights register and what is not? Who will determine any claim or arbitrate? How are works published under licence recorded?

3. If an out of print title had a jacket price of $5 in 1960, what will be the digital and POD price today? Who determines the price of a Google adopted orphan?

4. If a copy is scanned in the US but the UK rights are owned by a different party, who determines who gets the money?

5. If a books illustrations or photographs were licenced only for that rendition or edition, or were acquired under specific licence, do these now become fair game?

6. Public Domain works are free and anybody can publish. So publisher A embellishes the work with student notes and extras. What is fair use and what is copyright and who will police or arbitrate?

7. A number of public domain publishers have already put their content into GBS. Is this now fair game and free or covered by typographic rights?

8. If a publisher made a digital land grab for out of print but in copyright material and put this into GBS as a new edition, who will determine copyright breach and who will arbitrate?

9. What stops a publisher grabbing UK orphans and registering them as new works in another Google geographic region?

10. Anyone who has struggled to reconcile the cost of Google Adwords against revenues will understand that reporting and open accounting is often down to trust. Who will audit the service?

If you don’t know the answers to all these questions ask your CEO, Rights Director, Digital Director and your local publishing association or industry body as they will obviously know the answers.


Anonymous said...

1. If the author claims the books and indicates that rights have reverted, then all payments would be paid to him by the registry, unless there is a dispute over the rights (i.e. a publisher or another author has also claimed one of the titles.) In the case of a dispute, the registry will withold payments until the dispute is resolved, and a registry-led dispute resolution mechanism is outlined in the settlement agreement. Remember, the registry is set up and led by the authors and the publishers, not Google.

2. As stated above, the Registry is being funded by Google payments under the settlement agreement, but is being set up and led by the authors and the publishers, not Google--and is not exclusive to Google. That said, the registry will log all titles that are claimed with the name of the claimant, and notify any claimant if a conficting claim has been made for a title they have already claimed. The Registry has set proceedures for the resolution of conflicting claims set out at some length in the Setlement Agreement. Works published under license would be claimed by the author as the author, and--assuming that the work is not reverted--by the publisher which has been licensed the rights as its publisher.

3. First, the settlement does not authorize any POD activity, although perhaps the Registry could think about that down the road. Second, the rightsholder (publisher or author) sets the price for any book in the program. Third, for books in which no rightsholder legitimately claims rights (or those which do not specify pricing) there will be an algorithm to determine the consumer price for access to the text of the work--using original price, page count, pub date, category or genre, and possibly other data. Pricing bands will be tested to maximize the income for different kinds of books, and adjustments will be made accordingly to these "default" prices. The Regisrty will consult on these algorithms and oversee categorical pricing changes.

4. The settlement respects territoriality, and the UK publisher could legitimately claim a title scanned in the US if no US publisher owns relevant publishing rights in that title.

5. Photographs will be suppressed in this program unless there is an alternative framework for their use.

6 and 7. The original text "body" is out of copyright and can be legally displayed in the Library Program (or any other program) without restriction--while the notes and introduction may well be in copyright, and will be subject to the terms of the agreement.

8 and 9. There are provisions in the agreement allowing rightsholders (of course, since these would create disputes over rights) or Google to challenge such fraudulent activities. The Registry will not authorize such claims, assuming that they are challenged and shown to be illegitimate. The claims process will require any claimant to act "to the best of his knowledge" and "in good faith" in making a claim to any rights--this sets up a legal and financial liability for anyone who engages in such fraudulent activity.

10. There are many audit provisions contained in the settlement agreement, and the Registry will be able to audit Google's activities accordingly. Once again, the Book Rights Registry will be led by a Board comprised equally of authors and publishers representatives--Google does not have a role in the management of the Registry.

Anonymous said...

Copyright invests in the creator of a work at the time of its creation. That's the law of copyright in the United States. Anyone who wishes to use the work MUST ASK PERMISSION. The creator has no obligation to "opt out" of anything in order to preserve her/his writes.

The Google agreement is an end run around copyright law. Accepting their right to impose such a requirement is to cooperate with this theft.

They should be prosecuted. By the U.S. government for intentional infringement. And fined very big bucks.--judith