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U.S. writers’ groups team up to protest Google settlement

With the Jan. 28 opt-out deadline fast approaching, three major U.S. writers’ groups “ The National Writers Union, The American Society of Journalists and Authors, and the Science Fiction Writers of America “ have sent a joint letter to more than 60 members of Congress condemning the recently amended Google Book Search settlement proposal. It’s a notable break with the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers, both of which are working with Google on the settlement.

The three dissenting organizations seem to be specifically targeting Congressmen who are authors themselves. From the letter:

The ramifications of the amended settlement for any one author and any one book are exceptionally complex. We’ve talked to our members, authors like yourself. The ones who got the notice found it incomprehensible and just shook their heads in confusion. Go to the settlement website’s poorly implemented database and see for yourself how tricky this is “ has your book been scanned? Is it commercially available?  Should you opt out? If you do nothing, you’re automatically included in the settlement. If you opt out, Google doesn’t even guarantee that it won’t steal your work in the future.

It isn’t fair.  There are millions of book authors in this country who could be locked into an agreement they don’t understand and didn’t ask for. The Authors Guild represents only a tiny fraction of published writers, yet the new regulatory board set up in the proposed settlement will override individual book contracts “ not to mention common law and even the Constitutional protection of copyright. Mary Beth Peters, Register of Copyrights, testified before the House Judiciary Committee that the settlement would “turn copyright on its head.” Nothing in the revised U.S.settlement changes that.