Thursday, February 19, 2009
settling with Google
Access Copyright General Counsel, Roanie Levy explaining the Google settlement to an overflow crowd in Toronto.
Access Copyright presented one of their many cross country seminars on the recent Google Books Settlement (also available as webinars, I believe) this afternoon at the Harbour Castle Westin Hotel on Toronto's waterfront. The room filled beyond capacity very quickly and, not wanting to turn anyone away, AC arranged for more chairs. In the end, the audience spilled out the back doors of the meeting room and into the foyer.
If you are a professional writer or publisher of books in this country, and are reasonably certain your books were available for sale in the United States (including through online services such as Amazon.com) before January 5, 2009, you are automatically part of the class in this class-action settlement. That means you are eligible for compensation if your works were digitized by Google as part of their sweeping library book scanning project. A minimum of $45 million in compensation (total) for this initial digitization will be paid out to authors and publishers at a rate of $60 per book, and $15 per insert (single essays, stories, poems, etc. within a larger work such as an anthology). Registration of claims for compensation will run until January 5, 2010. Once you have claimed and received compensation, you have effectively given Google permission to continue to use your digitized work in their Google Book Search service, but with some interesting and potentially lucrative side benefits for the copyright owners. Ad revenue for online texts will be shared with the authors and publishers, and Google will also provide a sales engine for online works.
If for whatever reason you do not want any part of this settlement or Google's services, you may opt out of the settlement and request that Google remove your works from their online archive. You must opt-out before May 5, 2009.
Kudos to the entire staff at Access Copyright for doing diligent and important work in spreading the information about this settlement throughout Canada's writing and publishing sector. Supreme kudos to Roanie Levy, Access Copyright's General Counsel and Director of Policy and External Affairs for explaining the settlement in detail and taking many, many questions from the floor. Amazing work on a very important legal milestone for writing and publishing in the digital age.
I can't possibly explain all the details here. Writers and publishers owe it to themselves to be completely informed about this settlement. The best places to start are Access Copyright's website, and the Google Settlement site itself.
A great day for respect.