The following petition will be sent directly to Judge Chin by January 28th, 2010, and will also be attached as an exhibit to the brief to be submitted to the court by the NWU, ASJA, and SFWA. After that it may be used in publicity for our side of the issue.
Everyone who has joined my list of authors opposing the Settlement will be a signatory of the letter — except those who don’t want to be.
Signing the letter does not involve you in a legal action of any kind; we are simply submitting an opinion to the court. But if you don’t want your signature on the letter, just write me at [email protected] or in comments below and say: Take my name off the letter, please.
You must do so by January 25th, 2010. After that the letter and signatures may be out of my hands.
The list is still open — people may continue signing on until January 25th. I invite you to join us in defense of authors’ rights!
And my heartfelt thanks to all of you who are speaking out with me this way.
Petition Concerning the Google Book Settlement
The Google Settlement was negotiated by the Authors Guild, without consultation with any other group of authors or American authors as a whole. The Guild cannot and does not speak for all American writers. Its settlement cannot be seen as reflecting the will or interest of any group but the Guild.
Three groups of American writers, the National Writers Union, the American Society of Journalists and Authors, and the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, are opposed to the settlement. So are all the signatories of this letter: professional writers, who make part or all their living from their copyrights.
Ireland, India, South Africa, and New Zealand (countries with active publication in English) protested the settlement and have been exempted from it. The governments of Germany and France protested unregulated digitization and have been exempted from the Settlement (and the French Government is suing Google for illegal digitization of copyrighted property.)
We ask that the United States also be exempted from the settlement. We ask that the principle of copyright, which is directly threatened by the settlement, be honored and upheld in the United States.
The “opt-out” clause in the Settlement is most disturbing:
First, it seems unfair that, by the terms of the class-action settlement, authors can officially present objections to the Court only by being “opted in” to the settlement and thereby subjecting themselves to its terms.
Second, while the “opt-out” clause appears to offer authors an easy way to defend their copyright, in fact it disguises an assault on authors’ rights. Google, like any other publisher or entity, should be required to obtain permission from the owner to purchase or use copyrighted material, item by item.
There is no justification for reversing that rule by forcing copyright owners to defend their right against every careless or predatory use of the material, thus rendering copyright essentially meaningless.
The United States Department of Justice agrees, having declared that Google should negotiate individually with copyright holders. The Director of the United States Copyright Office calls the Settlement “an end-run around copyright law.”
The free and open dissemination of information and of literature, as it exists in our Public Libraries, can and should exist in the electronic media. All authors hope for that. But we cannot have free and open dissemination of information and literature unless the use of written material continues to be controlled by those who write it or own legitimate right in it. We urge our government and our courts to allow no corporation to circumvent copyright law or dictate the terms of that control.
Author List (Added 18 Jan 2010)
Douglas A. Anderson
R V Branham
Julie Ann/ Jenn Saint-John Burton
Mary Lynn Cabrall
Victor M. Cassidy
Robert A. Davies
Kathryn Lynn Davis
Sean P. Fodera
Mark L. Fuerst
Nancy W. Hall
Justin Adams Haven
James A. Hetley
Christina R. Lay
Peter R. Limburg
Norman M. Lobsenz
Gwendolyn R. McAlister
Elizabeth Sussman Nassau
Fredrick Rea O’Keefe
Karen Packard Rhodes
Kim Stanley Robinson
Jesse Jayne Rutherford
Charles C. Spray
Brooke C. Stoddard
Bridget Mintz Testa
Sheree Renee Thomas
Donna Van Cleve
Martha Ullman West
Sharon Wood Wortman
How to get on or off the Author List:
Email UKL at [email protected]
Add your name to the comments below and be clear that you want your name added to the list (or removed). Please indicate whether your email address may be included on the petition sent to Judge Chin. Expressions of support are appreciated but not sufficient to put you on the list.