Major Google Book Search Settlement Deadline Friday

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If you are a published author and you qualify for the Google Book Search settlement, Friday, Sept. 4 is your last day to opt out of the settlement if you don’t wish to be included.

The settlement, which was between Google, publishers and the Author’s Guild, gives Google the right to scan in-copyright books that are not commercially available (out of print), make them searchable and display snippets of them to the general public as well as “free, full-text, online viewing of millions of out-of-print books at designated computers in U.S. public and university libraries.”

Authors covered under the settlement have the option of claiming their work and receiving a payment for the scanning of their work (the actual payment amount will depend upon the number of authors who register) or opting out of the settlement and reserving the right to sue individually later. Those who do nothing will be assumed to be a party to the settlement but will not receive any money.

You may be a qualifying author if you meet the following criteria:

  1. Your book was published on or before January 5, 2009.
  2. Google scanned your book without authorization on or before May 5, 2009
  3. Your book is not commercially available
  4. Your book is still protected under copyright (which it should be unless specifically dedicated to the public domain).

If you wish to opt out of the settlement, you must do so on or before Friday, Sept. 4. You opt out of the settlement on the Google Book Search settlement site. Doing so will allow you to retain all of your rights against Google but does not necessarily bar them from scanning your book, though you have the option to request they don’t.

If you wish to claim your book and join the settlement, you don’t need to do anything immediately as you have until January 5, 2010 to file your claim.

Obviously, a lot of authors have serious thinking to do over the next few days as those who have put off making the decision are now staring at a major deadline.

The Author’s Guild has posted a defense of the settlement, saying that no authors should opt out. According to the guild, authors will have full control over how their book is displayed and used within Google Book Search and will help authors market and promote their books in the future.

In the end, the decision is up to the author and it is a very divisive issue. But the important thing is to seriously contemplate these issues and make a decision before Friday as, after that day, you lose the ability to opt out altogether.

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