Authors Guild Release Stinging Rebuke To Amazon Objection

The US Authors Guild has released a stinking rebuke to Amazon’s formal objection to the Google Book Settlement lodged earlier this week with the US courts. The statement comes on the eve of the deadline for authors to opt out of the settlement. Here is the Authors Guild statement in full.

“September 2, 2009. Amazon made it official today, filing a brief in the Google case claiming that someone else might gain a monopoly in bookselling. It seems we’re compelled to state the obvious:


Amazon’s hypocrisy is breathtaking. It dominates online bookselling and the fledgling e-book industry. At this moment it’s trying to cement its control of the e-book industry by routinely selling e-books at a loss. It won’t do that forever, of course. Eventually, when enough readers are locked in to its Kindle, everyone in the industry expects Amazon to squeeze publishers and authors. The results could be devastating for the economics of authorship.

Amazon apparently fears that Google could upend its plans. Amazon needn’t worry, really: this agreement is about out-of-print books. Its lock on the online distribution of in-print books, unfortunately, seems secure.

The settlement would make millions of out-of-print books available to readers again, and Google would get no exclusive rights under the agreement. The agreement opens new markets, and that’s a good thing for readers and authors. It offers to make millions upon millions of out-of-print books available for free online viewing at 16,500 public library buildings and more than 4,000 colleges and universities, and that’s a great thing for readers, students and scholars. The public has an overwhelming interest in having this settlement approved.”

History of Google Book Settlement (from Wikipaedia)

On September 20, 2005, the Authors Guild, together with Herbert Mitgang, Betty Miles and Daniel Hoffman, sued Google for operating its Book Search project. According to the Authors Guild, Google was committing copyright infringement by scanning books that were still in copyright. (Google countered that their use was fair according to US copyright law.)
On October 28, 2008 the Authors Guild, the Association of American Publishers, and Google announced that they had settled Authors Guild v. Google. Google agreed to a $125 million payout, $45 million of that to be paid to rightsholders whose books were scanned without permission. The Google Book Search Settlement Agreement allows for legal protection for Google’s scanning project, even though neither side changed its position about whether scanning books was fair use or copyright infringement. The Settlement also establishes a new regulatory organization, the Book Rights Registry, which will be responsible for allocating fees from Google to rightsholders. The settlement is subject to approval by a federal court.

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