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Thursday Midday Links: Is Google Book Settlement Dead?

emoticon_smileDennis Chin, the judge assigned to affirm or reject the Google Book Settlement, has been tapped to move to the 2nd Circuit judicial position, one of which was formerly held by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.      Today, the House Judiciary meeting is holding a hearing on the Google Book Settlement. Mary Beth Peters, the Register of Copyrights for the U.S. Copyright Office gave damning testimony on the Hill that James Grimmelman, a professor at New York Law School characterized as “fundamentally shift[ing]” the Google Book Settlement landscape.   Her full testimony can be read here.

We realized that the settlement was not really a settlement at all, in as much as settlements resolve acts that have happened in the past and were at issue in the underlying infringement suits. Instead, the so-called settlement would create mechanisms by which Google could continue to scan with impunity, well into the future, and to our great surprise, create yet additional commercial products without the prior consent of rights holders. For example, the settlement allows Google to reproduce, display and distribute the books of copyright owners without prior consent, provided Google and the plaintiffs deem the works to be "out-of-print" through a definition negotiated by them for purposes of the settlement documents

emoticon_smileIn business news, LJ Dawson reports that Bowker will be reducing the price for ISBNs.   Individual ISBNs are quite costly for small publishers and this reduced price will help in making sure that books, no matter the size of the publisher, can be catalogued and recorded properly.

Most importantly, as new digital formats and capabilities proliferate and diversify, end-users (consumers) must be able to differentiate one digital product form from another during discovery and the digital point of purchase, particularly when differentiated usability, access rights and functionality are key considerations to be made during a purchasing decision. is putting out a book via Print on Demand.   The work is an anthology titled Year’s Best Fantasy 9.   It will be available through online vendors.    Fascinating.

eyeIndex//mb, a Candanian publishing blog looks at what cloud computing can mean for publishing.   Essentially, mb divides out cloud computing into three categories: cycles, services and APIs and suggests that the power rests in control over API.

emoticon_surprisedSarah Weinman takes a closer look at the 17 book deal signed by James Patterson through 2012. Yes, that’s 17 books, 3 years.   Sarah breaks down the numbers for you.   I have offered myself up as a collaborator who a) tweets about my collaborator’s progress and b) offers up encouragement but weirdly no one thinks this is sufficient to meet “collaboration” requirements.

eyeWhile not specifically book related, I thought this article on Huffington Post regarding Jimmy Fallon’s huge web presence not supporting his television efforts sufficiently was really interesting.

NBC hopes that those who see Fallon light up the stage in one of these clips will eventually find their ways over to the network at midnight. Whether these video clips make people more inclined to watch the show – and for NBC to see the accompanying advertisements – is left to be seen. In my experience, liking a segment here and there does not translate into getting behind the whole, larger product. Whatever praise is thrown Fallon’s way for embracing the online market must come along with skepticism about whether it’s a recipe for long-term success or just a series of profitless gimmicks.

emoticon_tongueKay Sisk sent me a link to the Wall Street Journal article about Amish romances being hot.   Business hot, not content hot.   We actually discussed this briefly in a post a couple of weeks ago.

Most bonnet books are G-rated romances, often involving an Amish character who falls for an outsider. Publishers attribute the books’ popularity to their pastoral settings and forbidden love scenarios à la Romeo and Juliet. Lately, the genre has expanded to include Amish thrillers and murder mysteries. Most of the authors are women.

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. Nadia
    Sep 10, 2009 @ 10:11:59

    I kinda hope the Google BS gets killed. Google has no right to scan written materials just because it feels like it should without an explicit written permission from copyright holders, etc. If it’s too expensive to track down individual copyright holders…well, that’s Google’s problem, isn’t it? If they want it that bad, they can spend the money on doing the right thing.

    P.S. I don’t appreciate being forced into deciding on what to do about the Google BS because some dudes from the Authors Guild thought it was a good idea. I’m not a member. I don’t want the Authors Guild to speak for me or make business & career decisions on my behalf.

  2. Castiron
    Sep 10, 2009 @ 13:02:08

    @Nadia: Well, if we’re techinical, tracking down the copyright is also the problem of the libraries at the University of Michigan, Harvard University, Columbia University, Cornell University, the University of Texas at Austin, Princeton University, Stanford University, the University of Virginia, the University of Wisconsin at Madison, and the University of California, among others; these are the institutions that partnered with Google in the scanning project.

    But do you really think these libraries should have permission from the authors if they want to be able to do a text search of the books held in their collection?

    Because that’s how this all started several years ago, with Google scanning their collections so the library patrons could search the collection better. Mind you, I’m sure that when Google started the project they hoped they’d be able to use the scans for profit later, but the libraries were certainly only interested in making it easier for people to find the books they needed and didn’t know existed. Alas, we’re not going to get a legal ruling on whether scanning for that purpose is actually fair use, because the AG and Google agreed to settle rather than continue the case.

    Disclaimer: Employee of a university press; do not speak for my employer; dubious about many aspects of the settlement and kinda wish that the original lawsuit had continued to an actual ruling instead, but hoping that if the settlement passes that Congress will get off its butt about orphan works

  3. RStewie
    Sep 10, 2009 @ 13:09:48

    Sounds like you might get that wish, Nadia. That’s some strong language in her testimony, and it really clarifies some of the issues to the point of making them sound absurd.

  4. Nadia
    Sep 10, 2009 @ 13:19:14

    @Castiron: I wish they’d fought it out as well. So we’ll have some definite rulings on it.

    The more I read about the GBS, the more I feel nervous. It’s not even about making things easy to research or giving access to scholars. It’s about profiting w/o compensating the people who created the actual contents by circumventing the current law, which says you can’t do that w/o permission.

    And who’s to say that Google will stop w/ just text?

    P.S. For the record, I’m much more sympathetic toward research / univ libraries than Google. But still it’s not my place to tell other writers how they should license their work, which is what the AG is doing. Does that make sense? :)

  5. Shiloh Walker
    Sep 10, 2009 @ 13:39:50

    Man, I hope the GBS is dead. Dead in the water. Hope. Hope. Hope. I’m so fed-uip with that lousy deal, it’s not even funny.

  6. Castiron
    Sep 11, 2009 @ 12:52:26

    @Nadia: Makes absolute sense!

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