Science Fiction Writer Le Guin Launches Petition Against Google Book Settlement As Opt-Out Deadline Looms

Renowned science fiction and fantasy writer Ursula K. Le Guin has launched a petition to “exempt” the US (US authors) from the terms of the Google Book Search Settlement. The text of the petition says that “Ireland, India, South Africa, and New Zealand (countries with active publication in English) protested the settlement and have been exempted from it.”

Exempting the US would essentially render the settlement meaningless. The scope of the revised settlement has been narrowed to include only the US, UK, Australia and Canada and exclude other countries.

There is a January 28 deadline (Thursday) for affected authors to opt-out of the settlement (or opt-in for those who previously opted out). The revised settlement must still be approved.

Le Guin, and the roughly 300 authors supporting the petition, want use of their works to be individually negotiated by Google (and any similarly situated entities). The petition frames the issue as one of control, the individual author vs. the corporation (here Google):

The free and open dissemination of information and of literature, as it exists in our Public Libraries, can and should exist in the electronic media. All authors hope for that. But we cannot have free and open dissemination of information and literature unless the use of written material continues to be controlled by those who write it or own legitimate right in it. We urge our government and our courts to allow no corporation to circumvent copyright law or dictate the terms of that control.

Again the revised Book Search Settlement must still be approved. For lots more coverage and background, see ResourceShelf’s expansive round up.

The “final fairness hearing” on the revised settlement is for February 18, 2010 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. More details are found here.

Related Topics: Channel: Industry | Google: Book Search | Google: Critics | Google: Legal | Legal: Copyright


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  • Badams

    It’s not so much an issue of “the individual author vs. the corporation” no matter how loudly Le Guin proclaims it. It’s more an issue of a 20th century print-based business model vs a 21st century digital model.

    Like the newspaper industry, many in the authoring business have yet to fully grasp the way the internet has changed the world, and how people now consume content. They see Google as the evil avatar of copyright violations and online ‘theft’ – the very use of the word ‘theft’ in an online context shows how out of touch these people are.

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