2009-10-07: ASJA's wish list for the Google Book Settlement 2

New York, October 7, 2009

ASJA's wish list for the Google Book Settlement 2: Keep it legal, use an "opt in" -- and please! -- scrap that unnecessary registry


On November 9, 2009 the world will be getting a new version of what the Justice Department says is the most far-reaching class action settlement ever, the Google Book Search Settlement. The settlement grew out of the Authors Guild suit against Google for digitally scanning millions of books without the permission of copyright holders. Google now has scanned more than 10 million books.

This morning (October 7, 2009), Judge Denny Chin of the District Court of the Southern District of New York gave Google, the Authors Guild, and the Association of American Publishers just 33 days to craft a settlement plan that passes the Justice Department's scrutiny.

Last month, Justice attorneys told the court the first settlement was too legally flawed to approve, calling it more "a forward-looking business arrangement than a settlement of past conduct." The parties agreed to try again with Justice Department help.

The American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA) vigorously opposed the first settlement. ASJA is represented by the Washington DC law firm Kellogg, Huber and is part of a group of individual writers and the National Writers Union collectively known as "the Bloom writers" in opposition. Along with libraries, other writer groups, civil liberties groups and corporations, ASJA also is part of the Open Book Alliance.

ASJA would like to endorse the new settlement.

  • We hope this version will be legal. Violating reams of copyright, anti-trust and class action laws is counter-productive, to say the least.
  • We hope the new version allows interested writers to opt in, rather than requiring every writer southeast of Venus to opt out or be trapped in the maw.
  • We hope it will use the registry we writers already have, The Authors Registry, and skip creating an unnecessary new one. Give the money to writers instead, please.
  • We hope the payout for writers is bigger than the lawyers' take.
  • We hope orphan books become the property of We, the People of the United States. Or at least, not go to Google exclusively as their reward for stepping on millions of writers.
  • If Google still gets the orphan books, we trust the parties will include a pledge to record them for the seeing-impaired (a promise that suddenly appeared in a last-minute publicity surge to save the first, failed settlement).

ASJA represents professional freelance nonfiction writers.

  • A blank piece of paper is God's way of telling us how hard it is to be God.
    – Sidney Sheldon
  • A critic is a man who knows the way but can't drive the car.
    – Kenneth Tynan
  • A good many young writers make the mistake of enclosing a stamped, self–addressed envelope, big enough for the manuscript to come back in. This is too much of a temptation to the editor.
    – Ring Lardner
  • A young musician plays scales in his room and only bores his family. A beginning writer, on the other hand, sometimes has the misfortune of getting into print.
    – Marguerite Yourcenar
  • All the words I use in my stories can be found in the dictionary – it's just a matter of arranging them into the right sentences.
    – Somerset Maugham
  • Asking a working writer what he thinks about critics is like asking a lamppost how it feels about dogs.
    – Christopher Hampton
  • Being a writer is like having homework every night for the rest of your life.
    – Lawrence Kasdan
  • Copy from one, it's plagiarism; copy from two, it's research.
    –Wilson Mizner
  • Everywhere I go I'm asked if I think the university stifles writers. My opinion is that they don't stifle enough of them.
    – Flannery O'Connor
  • I just wrote a book, but don't go out and buy it yet, because I don't think it's finished yet.
    – Lawrence Welk
  • I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.
    – Douglas Adams
  • I'm writing a book. I've got the page numbers done.
    – Stephen Wright
  • It took me fifteen years to discover I had no talent for writing, but I couldn't give it up because by that time I was too famous.
    – Robert Benchley
  • It's a damn poor mind that can only think of one way to spell a word.
    – Andrew Jackson
  • Most writers can write books faster than publishers can write checks.
    – Richard Curtis
  • No fathers or mothers think their own children ugly; and this self–deceit is yet stronger with respect to the offspring of the mind.
    – Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
  • There are three rules for writing the novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.
    –Somerset Maugham
  • Writing a novel is like paddling from Boston to London in a bathtub. Sometimes the damn tub sinks. It's a wonder that most of them don't.
    – Stephen King
  • Writing a novel is like spelunking. You kind of create the right path for yourself. But, boy, are there so many points at which you think, absolutely, I'm going down the wrong hole here.
    – Chang–rae Lee
  • Your manuscript is both good and original, but the part that is good is not original, and the part that is original is not good.
    –Samuel Johnson
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