Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

Author Alert: Are Publishers Requiring Authors to “Opt In” to Google...

According to the Alliance for Arts in Canada, publishers are rewriting contracts to require authors to “opt in” to the Google Book Settlement.   Is anyone seeing this in the US, UK or other publishers?

Please check in (you can do so anonymously).

In other Google Book Settlement news, the Department of Justice is sending out requests for information to publishers and other entities participating in the settlement.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. A writer
    Jun 10, 2009 @ 09:07:30

    Fortunately, my contract is opt-out – thanks to my agent, who discussed the Google settlement with me during contract negotiations. I’m opting not to opt out (how’s that for a double negative? :-).

    Anyone concerned about the opt-in/opt-out Google bits should definitely check with their agent.

    Thanks for bringing this subject up, Jane. I’m interested to find out what others have to say about it.

  2. Meljean
    Jun 10, 2009 @ 10:48:09

    It wasn’t in my latest contract, as far as I can tell (meaning that if it is hidden in some part about electronic rights, I might not recognize it for what it is.)

    Still opting out.

  3. GrowlyCub
    Jun 10, 2009 @ 12:31:02

    I’m curious, why would any author ‘opt in’? As far as I can see, and I may be misunderstanding, this seems to be a massive rights grab by Google. It blows my mind that this ‘have to opt out’ clause can be legal. Google didn’t write the books, didn’t publish the books, didn’t produce the books, where do they come from trying to profit from other peoples’ efforts after the fact?

  4. Patricia Briggs
    Jun 10, 2009 @ 13:37:07

    Agreed, Growly Cub. I have an out of print book that is under contract — that if I had not known to opt out, would allow Google to “publish” it for me — and make me in violation of my contract.

    There are very vague terms in the settlement — for instance, it looks as though any book that is only available as an electronic edition, would be fair game to Google.

    And — although I can opt out for my current works, there is no provision that says I Can opt out for my later books.

    And all this because a group I don’t belong to, convinced a judge that they could represent all authors.

    Grump, grump, grumble.

  5. Anonymous
    Jun 10, 2009 @ 13:40:32

    Harlequin (a Canadian company) is opting in to the settlement for previously published books, but opting out for future revenue streams except bibliographic data.

  6. Kalen Hughes
    Jun 10, 2009 @ 14:10:04

    My publisher doesn’t own the copyright of my book (they’ve paid me for the right to print and distribute a book that I retain copyright to), so I’ll damn well opt out if I want to! Not that I’ve been told to “opt in” by anyone . . . yet.

  7. Patricia Briggs
    Jun 10, 2009 @ 16:12:21

    Kalen, you don’t get to “opt in” you are in by default unless you “opt out”!
    That’s my biggest issue with this settlement — though I have a lot of them.

  8. Patricia Briggs
    Jun 10, 2009 @ 16:22:42

    There are a number of things that keep occurring to me. Like — traditionally if your book is not “in print” and what that means should be clearly stated in your contract — then the right to distribute returns to you. (You should always keep your copyright as a matter of course in a contract — what you sell is the right to reproduce and distribute within a certain area of the world).

    However, unless your contract is worded just the right way — it may mean that the Google settlement allows your publisher to count your title as “in print” because Google has it available – and you cannot get the rights to distribute back.

    And remember — if you have published a book it is part of the Google settlement UNLESS you OPT OUT yourself. You have to go do it. And you have until September (I think, you need to check it out) to do it.

  9. Kalen Hughes
    Jun 11, 2009 @ 09:57:36

    According to the Alliance for Arts in Canada, publishers are rewriting contracts to require authors to “opt in” to the Google Book Settlement.

    Kalen, you don't get to “opt in” you are in by default unless you “opt out”!

    I was responding to Jane’s question about being told to “opt in” by a publisher. I have already “opted out” for my previously published work, and like you I am wondering what happends going forward . . .

  10. Elaine C.
    Jun 11, 2009 @ 15:22:33

    wow as a reader I truly hope all the authors are made aware of this in time to “opt out” by their lawyers or agents. I would hate to see you guys losing out like this because of Google’s highhanded move on YOUR books! Best wishes to all of you that Google loses more than gains by this shoddy legal strategy.

  11. Anonymous
    Jun 13, 2009 @ 13:00:07

    I’m published with a small ebook publisher. They attended a Google seminar at the Book Expo. I received an email from them basically saying Google wasn’t bad like everyone is led to believe. What that means, I have no idea. Haven’t heard anything about it since. As for me, I’m opting out.

  12. Jet
    Jun 20, 2009 @ 19:50:51

    Does this settlement mean that an opt put/opt in clause is now going to become standard in all future contracts? Or does this whole thing become mute and google can no longer scan books not falling in imenient domain after September 9th 2009 or whatever the opt out/opt in deadline is?

    Book collector’s must be going mad. I have a few books that are considered rare prints but now that they are publically accessable in full format, I can’t help but feel that the value has gone down signifigantly.

    As a student who hates hunting down rare and out of print texts I’m excited for a reprieve from the endless library loan cycle of doom.

    I can’t help but wonder why this decision/ settlement hasn’t been challenged further. Especially with the need to opt out as opposed to opt it. It seems excessive and a little like google steamrolled their way into e publishing history.

%d bloggers like this: