Google settlement "fundamentally unfair to writers"

New York, NY: February 18, 2010 – The American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA), the professional association of indepdendent nonfiction writers, says the Google Book settlement is fundamentally flawed because it lumps authors and publishers together when they traditionally have been on opposite sides of the negotiating table.

“It’s no accident that the publishers’ groups that support this settlement greatly outnumber the few writers’ organizations in favor of it,” says ASJA president Salley Shannon. “The Department of Justice itself said that the settlement is biased in favor of publishers.”

[In its first filing with the court, the DOJ said “The Registry is effectively controlled by large commercial publishers.” Page 22, DOJ filing on 9/18/2009.]

Writers also note that the very publishers who negotiated this settlement took care to make sure they are not bound by the terms of it. The DOJ said the same thing. Major publishing houses have made arrangements with Google outside the terms of this settlement. They are protected from the uncertainties of the agreement.

The laudable chance that some out-of-print books will be available for research and, possibly, digital sales, must not be an excuse to trample the rights of millions of the people who wrote the books – whether individual authors can be located or not.

ASJA represents some 1,500 professional freelance writers. Along with the National Writers Union and the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, plus the many disparate groups that form the Open Book Alliance, it is fighting this settlement.