Monday, February 14, 2011

Deadline for Claiming Cash Payment Under Google Book Search Settlement May Be Extended

Posted by Victoria Strauss for Writer Beware

This just in from the Authors Guild. My bolding.

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Authors, publishers and Google have filed a stipulation asking the Court to extend the deadline for filing claims to receive an upfront payment -- a "Cash Payment" -- in the Google Book Search settlement. The current deadline under the settlement, which is being reviewed by the court, is March 31, 2011. If the extension is granted, authors and publishers will have until one year after the Court approves the settlement to make a claim for a Cash Payment.

Under the settlement, only those rightsholders whose works were scanned by Google on or before May 5, 2009, are entitled to claim a Cash Payment. Payment for the unauthorized digitization of entire works will be at least $60. (This payment is separate from the settlement's revenue-sharing arrangements.)

If you are not claiming a Cash Payment, you may file at any time.

Follow the filing instructions here: Google Book Search Claims.

14 comments:

author Scott Nicholson said...

Damn, a shoplifter gets charged more in a court of a law! Celebrate plaigirism!

Scott Nicholson

Michael Capobianco said...

Another deadline is looming, though, which may or may not be extended. You must fill out the Claim Form on or before April 5, 2011 to remove books from the Library Digital Copies and the Research Corpus. This means that if your book has been digitized by Google, you have until April 5 to entirely remove it from Google's database. If you don't, it will be irrevocably accessible as part of the library database.

Frances Grimble said...

Michael,

I opted out of the proposed Settlement entirely. You can't file a claim unless you explicitly opt into the Settlement--which is signing an unfavorable publishing contract with a business that probably already pirated your work. No way.

But, I can't get into the Google Database to find out whether Google scanned my books because that access is only allowed AFTER you opt in/file a claim. I have contacted Google several times and asked whether they scanned my books, giving titles and ISBNs. All I got was canned responses urging me to opt into the Settlement.

Do you know of a way to remove books from the corpus, or even find out whether they were scanned, WITHOUT filing a claim form? Because, again, filing that claim form means you fully accept Google's Settlement/publishing contract. Which contract, by the way, removes all your right to sue Google if Google violates its terms.

Frances Grimble said...

By the way, since some people seem not to understand this: The Google Settlement has not been approved. The judge is still considering it, along with a much later, related suit brought by graphic artists and illustrators. I personally think the Settlement is unlikely to be approved. For one thing, the Justice Department has recommended to the court that it not be approved. If it is not approved, you cannot be bound by any of its terms unless you explicitly sign into it--by filing a claim, but again, this is not a simple action, because you are signing a 350+ page publishing contract at the same time.

I also think the parties to the suit want more people to sign onto it voluntarily to get the Settlement they negotiated (on behalf of everyone else!) approved. I gather there has not been a land rush.

Anonymous said...

Okay, I'm confused. I signed this thing when it was sent to me, what, a couple of years ago? And I think we were due to get $50 a book or something like that.

I never got jack, and now I've got a new book out and it was up on google books within a few days of being published.

What do we have to do now to get our money?

Victoria Strauss said...

Anonymous, you might have gotten a notification about claiming your books, but you'd have to have gone to the Settlement website and fill out the forms there to claim them.

The Settlement hasn't been approved. No one will get paid until it's approved--and it may not be approved, or may be approved in a different form. For now, we just have to wait.

The Settlement covers only books published on or before January 5, 2009. If your new book appeared on Google Books, it was by arrangement with your publisher, which presumably purchased your electronic rights.

Anonymous said...

Huh. Thanks; that's interesting. My publisher is Random House. They have my electronic rights, but I'm supposed to get 25% on ebook sales. So this sounds like 25% of nothing, then? Wonder why they wanted it up on google.

(I know I signed something, so I must've gone to google's settlement website and filled out the forms.)

Is it possible to read an entire book on google? On my old computer, everything freezes after you load the third page.

Victoria Strauss said...

All of this is pretty confusing, but the new Google eBookstore is a subset of Google Books (Google Books is the enormous database that includes, among many others, the illegally scanned books that are the subject of the Book Search Settlement).

Only books Google has the right to sell appear in the eBookstore. The Book Search books aren't there, since Google hasn't yet received the right to sell them--but they will be, if the Settlement is approved in its current form.

The eBookstore is massive, and most major publishers have arrangements with it. Your publisher is selling your book there just as it's selling it on the Kindle, the Nook, the iPad, Kobo, and other ebook platforms. You should get paid for all these sales.

You can read entire public domain books in the Google Books database, but for books still in copyright, you can only see excerpts or snippets.

Anonymous said...

Ah. That is immensely clarifying... I didn't know any of that. Thank you, Ms. Strauss.

Michael Capobianco said...

Frances, my comment was directed at writers who did not opt out by the deadline, in which case they are automatically part of the settlement whether they do anything or not. I should have specified that.

As to whether you can or cannot file a claim if you've opted out, technically, you may be correct, but an author still can indicate to the settlement administrator which books and inserts they are opting out, and it can be done via the settlement website. I think it's advisable to do so, since there's a very real chance that their mechanism for identifying a writer's books and inserts is faulty.

I have had no trouble logging in to the settlement website and viewing and modifying my books, even though I opted out. After logging in, the website displays the message "You have opted out of the settlement. While no additional steps are required, you are welcome to update your account to help the Registry identify your books and Inserts."

I believe that opting out trumps signing into the website, but I have not received a lawyer's advice about that. I know of no other way to check what works of yours have been scanned.

Frances Grimble said...

Michael,

Unless the Settlement is approved by the court, writers are not automatically part of it.

Opting out of the entire Settlement is entirely different from opting in, but opting out specific titles. Google gave an online form for opting out of the entire Settlement, but that did not indicate what titles had been scanned nor did I receive any confirmation whatever that I had opted out. I followed up with a letter, written by an IP lawyer, sent by certified mail to Google and also to the court.

You cannot be both opted out of, and opted into, the entire Settlement. If you opt out of the entire Settlement, you do not get the measly $60 per title scanned. But, you also do not give Google permission to sell or give away your books, and you retain your right to sue Google if they ever do.

Michael Capobianco said...

Frances, forgive me if I'm so immersed in the language of the settlement that I don't make myself clear about the baseline assumptions.

Because writers don't know whether the settlement will be approved or not, it behooves them to act as though it will be approved, because they will be locked in by their decisions if it is approved. At this stage, that means that they should act as if the settlement will be approved.

I didn't mean to suggest that a writer could opt out specific titles, only that Google will not know what titles you are opting out for unless you tell them. Either sending them a list of your titles, as you did, or checking off the boxes in the settlement website's database, as I did, perform that function. The advantage of using the database is that you can confirm which of your titles have been scanned and make sure that your titles are being attributed to you, and not someone else.

In a sense, it's incorrect to use the term "opt in" because writers who do not opt out are automatically in. Yes, that's with the caveat if the settlement is approved. If the settlement is not approved, or is substantially modified by the court, it's impossible to say how it will affect things.

I opted out. My comments are directed at the vast majority of writers who did not opt out, and need to know about the upcoming deadlines, even if just to make sure that the court extends them.

You seemed to be interested in checking to see which of your titles have been scanned by Google. I believe that you can still sign on to the settlement database and find out, even if you opted out. If you feel that will compromise your legal rights in regards to your work, however, I can certainly understand why you'd be reluctant to do so.

Frances Grimble said...

I also listed all my magazine articles in my opt-out letter, because Google now has magazine-scanning projects. I believe for the copyrighted magazines, Google has the permission of the publishers. However, that does not guarantee that those publishers contractually bought e-rights from all the authors, photographers, and illustrators.

Michael Capobainco said...

Judge Chin has approved extending the deadline for claiming the Google Books Settlement cash payment to 1 year after the settlement is approved. (if it is)