Wednesday, September 02, 2009

GBS: 'Last Orders,Time Gentlemen Please'

We now stand just two days away from the closure for objections to the Google Book Settlement and as predicted the voices on both sides are getting firmer, stronger and some are now realising the full implications of what stands before us.

Everyone who has read any of our articles will know were we stood last October on this seed changing proposed settlement. We actually support much of what Google are trying to achieve and applaud some of their achievements, but stand firmly opposed to other aspects of what we see is a flawed package. We now see clear opposition to the settlement, but continue to be surprised on how many still have not got to grips with it and have abdicated the decision to those ‘who know best’.

The question you must ask yourselves today is, where you stand and why? This is not a US only issue, nor is it about creating the world’s greatest library resource. It isn’t about public domain works, nor is it about in print and in copyright works. It is about orphans, foreign works and their authors and about sanctioning what some would describe as theft.

Many will argue that it’s the best offer in town and overlooking a few details, we couldn’t have a better deal. They will often raise that lack of a viable alternative as the reason to support it. They may well say that it will sort itself out over time and that it is impossible to change copyright any other way. Whatever the outcome we all will look back in two years time and will realise that this is the biggest opportunity and also the biggest threat facing publishing today and there will be no going back and whatever is decided, it will shape the publishing future landscape for authors, publishers, libraries, retailers, institutions and consumers.

As every pub landlord cries on closure, ‘last orders, time gentlemen please.’

1 comment:

Michael W. said...

For those who are interested, I've posted my 5-page letter to the judge online.

http://inklingbooks.com/googlesettlement/files/JudgeChinLetter.pdf

In that letter I turn Google's antitrust argument, that others can do what they're doing, on its head. I point out that a Google win would be an open license to any country that finds the international copyright treaties they've signed a nuisance to manufacture something with a similar effect.

The net result would be that, as authors, we'd having to constantly keep on the watch for some new forced-opt-in-if-you-don't-opt-out scheme appearing somewhere in the world. Google has, probably to its great regret, permitting months of debate before their deadline (tomorrow). Other countries might only give authors a couple of weeks to discover and response to their opt-out-or-else schemes. And if a U.S. court approves this settlement, they'd have a near perfect excuse, "If the U.S. can do it, so can we."