Is Another Suit Against Google Book Search Coming?
I think so.
Google has arbitrarily stepped in as an uninvited third-party to put “in print” thousands (perhaps millions) of books that have been out of print.
Being out-of-print is grounds for an author to demand a reversion of rights granted in the original contract.
That basically ends the business arrangement between writer and publisher.
The publisher took a commercial chance, it didn’t work out, the book was never kept alive, it stopped earning money, and the writer should have all rights reverted and be free to make commercial deals elsewhere.
Google has upset this equation by putting those books back “in print” and has suddenly jeopardized the future livelihoods of thousands of writers as we enter this age of eBooks.
Publishers holding contracts that long ago should have reverted can now claim grounds of works being “in print” even though those damned publishers never did the deed themselves.
And what’s more: they probably never, ever intended to do that deed, either!
I really don’t give a damn what a limited author’s group and a limited collection of publishers have agreed to.
Neither one of them speaks for me. Neither one of them can speak for any other writer who is not party to this agreement.
Google is going to find itself having to negotiate with individual writers for the rights they mistakenly believe they have been granted by this “settlement.”
This is a settlement only between Google and those two parties.
The two parties suing Google do not at all have the right to speak for every writer out there.
I foresee writers getting together and filing suits either singly or in groups.
That big 67% to “rightsholder” is still bullshit, when it comes to conventional book contracts. Some of these contracts will not contain provisions for electronic rights and I’d damn well bet money that publishers are going to dole out only the printed book royalty rate — and the lowest rate they can get away with too.
That 67% should bypass publishers who have kept works out of print — that money justly belongs solely to the writers.
Google, stop dancing around your desks.
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