Google Books deadline extended

3 05 2009

This post wast supposed to be a reminder about the opt-out deadline. However, I have read that the deadline has been extended to Sept. 4, and the hearing rescheduled for October 7. Of course that is no excuse for putting off your decision to the next last minute.

I am not advocating opting out or opting in. What I am advocating is reading the relevant information and making an actual decision. This is not like other class action settlments where all you lose is $5 from CD manufacurers. There are serious rights on the line here.

See my earlier post, or for that matter, google it!

After taxes- Google books deadline looms

15 04 2009

As you finish up with your tax deadline, another important deadline is looming.

The Google Book settlement with the Author’s Guild has May 5 opt out deadline. That is a less than 3 weeks.

What does this mean to you?

Well, if you want to be a part of the settlement, you don’t have to do anything. But you need to make a couple of decisions.

1) Your first decision-does this affect me as a photographer? It may or it may not. According to the Google Settlement Page FAQ’s:

The settlement covers:

“all persons and entities that, as of January 5, 2009, own a U.S. copyright interest in one or more Books or Inserts that are “implicated by a use” authorized by the Settlement.”

“Photographs, illustrations, maps, paintings and other pictorial works in Books are covered by the Settlement ONLY when either (a) the U.S. copyright interest in the pictorial work is owned by a person who is also a copyright owner of the Book containing the pictorial work or (b) the pictorial work is an illustration in a children’s Book (see below). For example, if a copyright owner of a Book on photography is also a copyright owner of photographs in that Book, those photographs are covered by the Settlement. However, the Settlement does not cover any other photographs in the Book whose copyright is owned only by persons who are not copyright owners of the Book. Similarly, if a history Book contains a series of maps where the copyrights to those maps are owned only by persons other than a copyright owner of that history Book, those maps are not covered by the Settlement.”

2) If you believe you are covered by the settlement, you have a second decision. Do you want to participate?

How do you decide if you like the deal or not. Well, you have to know what google is authorized to do under the settlement AND what benefits you will receive. According to the Google Settlements FAQ page (run by Google), the following applies:

  1. “What is Google Authorized to do Under the Settlement?
    Under the Settlement, Rightsholders authorize Google, on a non-exclusive basis, to:

  2. Cash Payments. Google will pay a minimum of $45 million to compensate Rightsholders whose works Google has scanned without permission as of May 5, 2009. Rightsholders of works Google has scanned without permission as of May 5, 2009 are eligible for Cash Payments, which will be at least $60 per Principal Work, $15 per Entire Insert, and $5 per Partial Insert. A “Principal Work” is the main work in a Book (that is, the part of the Book that does not include forewords, afterwards, footnotes and other material).”
    • Continue to digitize Books and Inserts
    • Sell subscriptions to an electronic Books database to institutions;
    • Sell online access to individual Books;
    • Sell advertising on pages from Books;
    • Display portions of Book in a “preview” format to encourage sales of online access to Books;
    • Display Snippets from Books; and
    • Display bibliographic information from Books.
  3. What Benefits Are the Rightsholders Receiving from the Settlement?

    • 63% of Revenues Earned in Google Book Search. Google will pay rightsholders 63% of all revenues Google receives from the commercial uses Google makes of the Books.
    • Establishment of the Book Rights Registry. Google will pay $34.5 million to establish and maintain a Book Rights Registry, to locate rightsholders and create a database of their contact information and copyright interests in Books and Inserts, and to collect revenues from Google and distribute those revenues to rightsholders, and for notice and settlement administration costs.
    • Right to Manage Books and Inserts in Google Book Search. Rightsholders will have the right to determine whether and to what extent Google may use their copyrighted writings.

My concerns about the settlement:

The Payment: $60 cash payment to scan your book and make it available online is not very much, compared to the purchases of the book which you will lose. While author’s will supposedly get 67% of the profits, it is not clear how they will determine who gets those profits or where the money from true orphan books will end up. Will they track the books that are read on their online service and distribute to those authors? It is important that there be a procedure in place that connects the use of each individual book with the author.

The Book Rights Registry: This should benefit creators. It is important that there be safeguards in the registry for privacy reasons. However, one of the main obstacles to paying creators is finding them, so this will definitely help.

What price will the the access be: This appears to be the million dollar question. While libraries are concerned about this number being too high (it currently costs $50 to access some law books on Lexis Nexis), author’s should be concerned about this number being too low. If someone won’t buy my book because they can get it online for $2, maybe I am losing a lot of money. Then again, maybe that is more than I would have gotten from a hard-copy sale. And maybe, like iTunes, more people will by my book because it cost less, and I will ultimately profit. But it is hard for an author to make that decision without more facts.

Right to Manage Books: This is what makes this settlement acceptable to me. If I can determine to what extent Google can use my copyrighted work, I control my work. This means if it is driving down my profit, I can adapt. But clarity on the amount of rights you can exercise would be helpful.

Magazines: Read my post below about magazines. While this settlement claims to be only about books, I am deeply concerned that similar online distribution of magazines is being accomplished by Google.

For more information:

Article about who is opposed to the settlement (includes a quote from Vic Perlman).

Blog post from the Advertising Photographers of America.

Article on Author’s Link.

This New York Times article discusses some of the philosophical objections to the settlement, including concerns that Google is creating a monopoly of access to “orphan” books.

The Author’s Guild, which is one of the organizations that initiated the suit. Keep in mind that they helped shape the terms of the settlement, so they believe it is fair. They have a large number of resources on their settlement page.

Google also has a settlement page.

I am a strong believer in the mantra “consider the source,” so while these resources may be accruate, you should seek out information and evaluation from a third party that is representative of creators.

All right, that should give you enough reading material until the tax extension deadline (yes, I filed for an extension for like the 5th year in a row).

Cheerio! Alicia

Magazines on Google

8 02 2009

“A Photo Editor” blogger Rob Haggart reports that Rodale, which is a magazine publisher,  is publishing back issues of the magazine on Google. They are available through Google Book Search. Here is a post about it on Google as well.

Haggart brings up the amusing point of what to do with magazines that basically write the same articles every month.

But he also brings up the question of whether the magazine is violating copyright a/la New York Times v. Tasini, which ruled that publishers did not have a right to relicense content to database without the contributor’s consent. (If in fact this is an arrangement between the publishers and google, and not an independent act by google)


Google Book search- includes magazines now

My opinion (as a student of the law, not as a judge or lawyer) is that this is permissible, based on the Tasini opinion, which by coincidence, we read last week in my copyright course.

The big difference between Google magazines and Tasini is that Tasini involved a large database where the articles could appear along with completely unrelated articles or alone. They didn’t appear in context, and so they didn’t qualify as permissible revisions.

In the current situation, the articles and photographs appear in context and I think they would be considered permissible revisions. Which is not to say that Google can post them without the magazine’s consent, but only that the magazines can authorize Google to post them without the photographer’s consent.

From Tasini:

“A newspaper or magazine publisher is thus privileged to reproduce or distribute an article contributed by a freelance author, absent a contract otherwise providing, only “as part of” any (or all) of three categories of collective works:

(a) “that collective work” to which the author contributed her work,

(b) “any revision of that collective work,” or

(c) “any later collective work in the same series.”

In accord with Congress’ prescription, a “publishing company could reprint a contribution from one issue in a later issue of its magazine, and could reprint an article from a 1980 edition of an encyclopedia in a 1990 revision of it; the publisher could not revise the contribution itself or include it in a new anthology or an entirely different magazine or other collective work.” H. R. Rep. 122-123″

I think if a photographer took this case to court, it would look more like Greenberg v. National Geographic. In that case, a court ruled in favor of the publisher’s right to republish a digital “revision” of the magazine without permission of the photographer. The magazine pages on the CD ROMs in the NGS case were presented in their original context, whereas the Tasini articles in the Lexis and other databases were not. Seems like a small difference, but it makes all the difference.

A good way to distinguish the two is to think about the good old microfilm days. If it looks like microfilm (you have to look at the entire page in context) then it is more like the Greenberg case. The Google Magazine search looks more like microfilm.

Keep in mind that each case has the potential to be different based on the facts, and a contractual agreement between a magazine and a photographer may change the equation. Also, if this is not an arrangement with the publishers, but is instead google going out on it’s own, it is a different kind of trouble.

Ironically, this google magazine search could be a major blow to Lexis Nexis. Why pay LN fees to search magazines when you can do it for free on Google.

Reminder: this should not be considered legal advice. See disclaimer.

Coldplay accused of copyright violation

3 01 2009

Joe Satriani is suing musical group Coldplay for violating his copyright.

This article about the conflict highlights the importance of access in copyright cases.

Decide for yourself by watching this or other Youtube comparisons. I like this particular one because it plays them both and then combines them. Perfect harmony.

This article also led me to an interesting website on copyright, the UCLA copyright Infringement Project, which lists important copyright cases, mostly music related, and includes samples of both songs in various cases.

Although these cases relate to music, the concepts of IP and sampling crossover.

A $5.4 Million case against Michael Bolton had a nice summary of the basics of an infringement case:

A copyright plaintiff must prove

(1) ownership of the copyright; and

(2) infringement – that the defendant copied protected elements of the plaintiff’s work. See Smith v. Jackson, 84 F.3d 1213, 1218 (9th Cir. 1996) (citation omitted).

Absent direct evidence of copying, proof of infringement involves fact-based showings that the defendant had “access” to the plaintiff’s work and that the two works are “substantially similar.” Id.

Wow. $12 million copyright infringement case

23 06 2008

Photo copyright award– Photo Attorney Carolyn E. Wright writes about a recent copyright infringement case that awarded the photographer $12 million in damages. It’s quite a tale, check it out. The case is Ordonez-Dawes v. Turnkey Props., Inc., 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 24320 if you want to read it.

Here is a portion of the judgment:

1. Plaintiff is entitled to an award of actual damages and infringer’s profits, pursuant to 17 U.S.C. � 504(b), of $ 12,089,260.00. This amount consists of $ 58,760.00 in actual damages and $ 12,030,500.00 in lost profits.

Quick poll. Do you think the losers in this case will

  • a) sue their attorney for malpractice,
  • b) file for bankruptcy, close their company and open a new one,
  • c) try to appeal, or
  • d) flunk their Civ Pro class

In other copyright news, AP and bloggers are in dispute over the limits of fair use of quotes and links and AP is reportedly releasing guidelines soon about what it considers appropriate fair use. Bloggers, are of course, up in arms, but they probably don’t know what it is like to be laid off because the company that is paying you to create content is no longer the company that is profiting from that content.

While brief quotes and links seem to fall into fair use, there is an abundance of bloggers whose entire posts are someone else’s content, or who post entire articles and even photos and then try to claim that it is fair use. Rather than launch an army of lawyers, I recommend that bloggers simply paraphrase, and do a little of their own reporting. It will take less time.