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#21 Michael Capobianco

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Posted 21 January, 2010 - 10:40 AM

Don't get me started on the Authors Registry, Paul. B)

Before we go any further, I want to thank Paul Aiken again for speaking yesterday to what was in some respects a hostile crowd. Although the video of the panel isn't online yet, there's a very good summary by Laura Anne Gilman at http://suricattus.li...om/1195103.html.
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#22 Paul Aiken

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Posted 21 January, 2010 - 10:41 AM

Regarding reprints: An author would simply instruct Google, through the author's rights management screen at the Book Rights Registry, to turn off all displays. The author then could grant traditional exclusive rights to the reprinting publisher.
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#23 Lynne Thomas

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Posted 21 January, 2010 - 10:42 AM

I beg to differ. According to the American Library Association, the Association for College and Research Libraries, and the Association of Research Libraries, "academic authors wrote the vast majority of the books Google will include in its database," specifically in reference to orphaned works. Those authors were not represented in the settlement in any way. They are also notoriously difficult to locate for things like copyright clearance, if my 6 years of trying to help scholars get copyright clearance for academic works is any indication.

This is the response of those three organizations:

http://www.arl.org/b...ivasa-final.pdf
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#24 Michael Capobianco

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Posted 21 January, 2010 - 10:43 AM

One of the things that struck me yesterday was that, although the settlement only covers out of print works, there are quite a lot of rights that are transferred to publishers. I hadn't thought about this before because all of my out of print works were quickly reverted when they went OOP. In fact, one of them, Iris, which I wrote with William Barton, was reverted from Bantam, resold to HarperCollins, and has now been reverted once again. What occurred to me is how this settlement makes it even more important to revert your book when they go out of print. If you haven't reverted your rights, there's a very good chance that your publisher will try to horn in on your Google money. Take the $60 paid out for works that Google scanned prior to May of last year. If you own your rights, you get $60; if the publisher claims that, according to the arcane rules of the settlement, they're still a rightsholder, optimistically you get $15. Pretty big difference, so, even though there are provisions in the settlement to create a kind of quasi-reversion, if the publisher contests it, you've got to prove that the publisher is wrong. Moral: Revert your rights!
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#25 Mary Robinette Kowal

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Posted 21 January, 2010 - 10:44 AM

This is an excellent point to seque.

I'm going to go ahead and open the floor to questions from the audience at this point. So we can deal with some of the practicalities for working writers.


We have a question from Steven Popkes, one of our active members, who asks, "Question: How do reprints get handled by the google settlement? For example, an out of print book is scanned and put on line. At a later date, a reprint of the book is contemplated. What happens to the book on line? What rights does an author have to reprint a book that is now on line?"
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#26 Paul Aiken

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Posted 21 January, 2010 - 10:44 AM

The people at that forum seemed to have their minds made up. Lots of anger at Google. Which is understandable, of course, but it won't put any money in your wallet.

I read that summary -- lots of editorializing by a settlement opponent.

And, c'mon, I told everyone I had to go to my kids' piano recital!
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#27 Lynne Thomas

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Posted 21 January, 2010 - 10:46 AM

How real is the danger that Google will have a monopoly on this?


In libraries, the danger is rather real. There is no other competition for such a registry, and the library world does not have the resources to build one on the scale that Google has done anytime soon. Google had a 5 year head start. In terms of market share for libraries, that is basically a monopoly, since exceedingly few libraries will be able to afford to subscribe to more than one service.
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#28 Paul Aiken

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Posted 21 January, 2010 - 10:46 AM

Michael, I agree that it's important to get your rights back. However, there's no way an author of an out-of-print book that's entitled to a cash payment would get only $15. (That's a minor point.)
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#29 Mary Robinette Kowal

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Posted 21 January, 2010 - 10:47 AM

Thanks, Lynne.
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#30 Michael Capobianco

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Posted 21 January, 2010 - 10:48 AM

Paul, I think one of the things you have underestimated is how important non-monetary considerations are to a lot of writers, and how they feel this has undermined their rights as an author. They want respect as well as money.
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#31 Peter West

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Posted 21 January, 2010 - 10:49 AM

The Book Rights Registry will be controlled solely by authors and publishers (not Google) and will charge an administrative fee to cover its costs.


I would like to ask for further clarification on the "administrative fee" for the Book Rights Registry. Could someone please explain to me a little more about this fee (amount, subscription-based or one-time)? Thank you!

Cheers!
~ Peter West
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#32 Andrew Burt

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Posted 21 January, 2010 - 10:50 AM

Hi everyone, good to meet or see you again.

Is there any provision in the settlement to alter/update its terms?

The reason I ask is that the future holds a lot of unknowns (e.g., who foresaw the Kindle 10 years ago?). Thus, while copyright law could be changed by legislators as needed to keep up (admittedly a slow process, but at least possible), can this agreement likewise be updated as conditions change and unforeseen things arise? Even something as simple as altering the 63/37 revenue split, if that becomes out of the ordinary. Or if some new technology comes along we can't imagine and we find the current wording lets the horses out of the corral somehow (just as the very definition of "book" was at issue in the Random House ebook situation.)
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#33 Charlie Stross

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Posted 21 January, 2010 - 10:51 AM

How real is the danger that Google will have a monopoly on this?


In libraries, the danger is rather real. There is no other competition for such a registry, and the library world does not have the resources to build one on the scale that Google has done anytime soon.

I'm not convinced; there's Europeana, for example, a large-scale EU-funded project to digitize and make available contents from a variety of galleries, museums, and libraries. "The idea for Europeana came from a letter to the Presidency of Council and to the Commission on 28 April 2005. Six Heads of State and Government suggested the creation of a virtual European library, aiming to make Europe's cultural and scientific resources accessible for all."

It's still being built and doesn't have the broad scope of Google's virtual library as yet (only 6 million works online so far), but similar government-pushed initiatives could certainly prove workable.
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#34 Michael Capobianco

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Posted 21 January, 2010 - 10:52 AM

Michael, I agree that it's important to get your rights back. However, there's no way an author of an out-of-print book that's entitled to a cash payment would get only $15. (That's a minor point.)


I may have misread the settlement, but my understanding is, if a publisher claims to be a rightsholder, the $60 is split evenly, then the author's share is paid to the author according to the rights-split in their contract, which would be 50% of the $30. And, if the book hasn't earned out, the author gets zip - a big fat 0.
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#35 Paul Aiken

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Posted 21 January, 2010 - 10:52 AM

Lynne, the Authors Guild counts many academic authors as members. Even academic authors want their out-of-print works available, so long as they have control. And if they believe information wants to be free, they can charge $0 for users to view the entirety of their works. They can even use Creative Commons licenses.

Regarding the "monopoly": all uses are non-exclusive. Authors sign up with the Registry on a non-exclusive basis (unlike, say, ASCAP or BMI). The Registry's agreement with Google is nonexclusive. As the Registry locates more and more rightsholders, more and more rightsholders will be able to authorize others to undertake projects similar to Google's.
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#36 Lou Anders

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Posted 21 January, 2010 - 10:54 AM

Regarding reprints: An author would simply instruct Google, through the author's rights management screen at the Book Rights Registry, to turn off all displays. The author then could grant traditional exclusive rights to the reprinting publisher.


Speaking as an editor, I doubt seriously that I would consider reprinting a work that had already been displayed online for any length of time. However, I should say in fairness that we don't do many reprints these days...
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#37 Paul Aiken

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Posted 21 January, 2010 - 10:54 AM

Michael, if the book is out-of-print and rights haven't reverted, the least an author could receive would be $30 for the digitization payment. Unearned advances won't factor in.

Likewise, for new money that comes in from subscription and online purchases, the least the author would receive is 50%. (You shouldn't opt out.)
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#38 Lynne Thomas

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Posted 21 January, 2010 - 10:55 AM

How real is the danger that Google will have a monopoly on this?


In libraries, the danger is rather real. There is no other competition for such a registry, and the library world does not have the resources to build one on the scale that Google has done anytime soon.


I'm not convinced; there's Europeana, for example, a large-scale EU-funded project to digitize and make available contents from a variety of galleries, museums, and libraries. "The idea for Europeana came from a letter to the Presidency of Council and to the Commission on 28 April 2005. Six Heads of State and Government suggested the creation of a virtual European library, aiming to make Europe's cultural and scientific resources accessible for all."

It's still being built and doesn't have the broad scope of Google's virtual library as yet (only 6 million works online so far), but similar government-pushed initiatives could certainly prove workable.


While they could indeed be workable, they are only made so through massive appropriations to major libraries (i.e. national libraries, Ivy League and Flagship State Universities). Those appropriations, in our current economy, have dried up. Given how long it takes for librarians to agree on standards for anything (and we will insist upon standards, and have lots of meetings about them), we could be talking decades before there is another database that can really compete on a level playing field.
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#39 Mary Robinette Kowal

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Posted 21 January, 2010 - 10:56 AM

I would just like to remind our panelists to keep an eye out for audience questions.
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#40 Paul Aiken

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Posted 21 January, 2010 - 10:56 AM

Lou, Your view isn't shared by many in the publishing industry. In-print books are displayed all the time online (Amazon, Google Partner Program). More of this is certainly coming in the future. Of course publishers will republish works currently in print when they go out of print. Especially if the Google program shows -- with real data -- that there's a demand for the book.
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