Friday, August 28, 2009

Is the Google Books Settlement Evil?: Jennifer Massoni | Vanity Fair

Via Slate, which posted the following summary (Slate’s new weirdly-named Slatest is definitely worth exploring):

Google's project to scan millions of books hit a $125 million bump in 2005, when unions representing authors and publishers sued the company for copyright violation. Last October, Google and the plaintiffs agreed to a $125 million settlement, in which authors and publishers would get royalties from Google Books' profit in return for allowing the scanning to continue. Individual authors can opt out, forfeiting the royalties but also preventing their works from appearing on Google Books. Only about 2,000 authors have opted out ahead of the Sept. 4 deadline, but that's because the rest don't know how hard they'll be screwed, Jennifer Massoni finds in Vanity Fair. The inscrutable language of the settlement obscures the fact that the proposed system would be a bureaucratic mess that will wrest away control of authors' books and that lawyers' fees are already draining the fund of cash. In the end, the average author who doesn't opt out will get about $60 to $300 in return for the massive headache.

Is the Google Books Settlement Evil?: Jennifer Massoni | Vanity Fair

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