Canadian Writers Against the Google settlement

Hello Everybody —

There are far too many of you now to email separately.  But I have very much enjoyed corresponding with you, and if you would like to reply, please do so.

I have had a lot of questions from you about when this mess might get resolved.  Short answer: nobody knows.  The judge in  New York City has given no indication when he will rule for or against the settlement, though one educated guess put June as a possibility.  The judge has a lot of issues to think about, from class action law to international trade agreements.  .

There has been a wide range of comments from you about the passivity of your respective writers’ associations. You asked: why was it up to individuals to object?  Good question.  Maybe you should ask it of your groups’ representatives, executive, and legal counsel.

In sharp contrast, all major  US writers’ groups (except the Authors Guild, which negotiated it) condemned the Google Grab unequivocally.   These were: ASJA (American Society of Journalists and Authors), NWU (National Writers Union), and SFWA (Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association).

I am happy to report, however, that one Canadian group did step up and demand rejection of the settlement.  CAUT (Canadian Association of University Teachers) is comprised of 65,000 members, and their brief focused on academic writers.   “CAUT counts among its members many tens of thousands of authors, authors who come from all provinces and territories of Canada . By definition, such Canadian authors are members of the class and bound by the PASA. (Proposed Amended Settlement Agreement). The PASA– a private commercial document negotiated between a commercial actor (Google) and American commercial writers’ and publishers’ representatives (the Authors Guild and the American Association of Publishers) – reflects the commercial interests of its negotiating parties.  These interests are commercial – not academic – and American – not Canadian.”  Here’s the brief: .http://www.caut.ca/uploads/CAUT_Google_Settlement.pdf

There has been a dramatic new development in the Google Books story.  A coalition of photographers and illustrators, led by the American Society of Media Photographers, has just sued Google for copyright infringement.   Those of you who have books with visual material in them may be affected by this.  Up to now, the settlement has only applied to the printed word, leading to the possibility of Google displaying the text but not the images of certain books… a peculiar notion when you consider childrens’ books.  This development could very well tie up the deliberations.  Those of you who are affected by it might consider anti-Google action on behalf of Canadian photographers and illustrators.  Meanwhile, Google keeps on copying, with no injunction to stop them.  Here’s the lawsuit brief:  http://reporter.blogs.com/files/complaint-2.pdf

Best Regards, David Bolt

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