Also from this article: “Sarnoff stressed that the settlement only dealt with books that were out of print, and not commercially available, and thus “not making a dime” for anyone.”
What Sarnoff really means is that books that are out of print in hardcody and are not available from the original print publisher are not making a dime for print publishers.
That’s true, because in most such cases it’s authors, not print publishers, who own the electronic rights (either because they were never assigned, or because they have reverted) and who are both making the work available electronically (through e.g. PDF downloads from authors’ own Web sites, inclusion of content on authors’ Web sites with advertising, or other e-book self-publishing) and earning money from them. Not much, but more than they are likely to get, if anything, from P.S. [Proposed Settlement] 1.0.
Sarnoff’s comment, like similar ones from Google spokespeople, reflects either a self-important assumption of the need for their own role as intermediaries that leaves them unable to take self-publishing seriously, or the degree to which the more forward-looking among them recognize that technology has enabled self-publishing to pose a real threat to their traditional role. An all-important goal for them is to keep both authors and readers from realizing how little they need “publishers” any more. And of course Google’s goal is to make itself the universal information intermediary, denying the possibility of any alternative or competitor.
Rather than deal with these issues, they simply deny the existence or possibility of any form of electronic self-publishing, including existing ones, other than those mediated by both Google and the original print publisher.
This is the nonsense that underlies P.S. 1.0.
Of course under P.S. 1.0 whether a work is “out of print” or “commercially available” will be determined not by legal process but by Google and the Registry under the Author-Publisher procedures, raising yet another set of issues including whether availability of content form a book on the author’s Web site will under those yet-to-be determined procedures be found to render it “in print” or constitute “commercial availability”. Sarnoff’s comments provide compelling evidence of how well-founded are authors’ fears that their existing electronic self-publishing revenue models won’t be taken seriously by the Registry or respected in its decisions on these questions.