GBS: A Broadside from the ASJA

The latest ASJA newsletter (that’s the American Society of Journalists and Authors) has some harsh words for the settlement. The “President’s Desk” column by Salley Shannon (starting on page 3) is titled, “Trotting into History with Google 2.0 (Horse Manure Included),” and you can imagine where it goes:

This version is still the dog’s dinner, but it has a nice tablecloth beneath it. … It matters, chickadees, because this is an attempt to strip away your rights in the guise of helping you. It could cost you major money. … How does either settlement version relate to Google’s illegal scanning? It doesn’t. Period. That’s one of the huge problems that may, if we’re lucky and our lawyers are skilled, get this festering manure thrown on the garbage heap of history.

Later on in the issue, there’s an interview with literary agent Lynn Chu. (See pages 6–7 and 13 of the PDF). She also has some pointed criticism of the settlement:

This is a business enterprise for the Authors Guild. The Authors Guild is delighted by the idea of a permanent fiefdom in partnership with Google. It sees no issue with intruding itself into all authors’ business affairs, commandeering their money, and taking a cut, forever, with no consent. Somebody, they think, just has to sit down and rewrite every book contract to the satisfaction of the publishing cartel; somebody just has to serve as Google’s contracts and claims department and charge authors for it. For its part, Google is desperate to have this “Registry” with its cover of faux independence. The Registry effectively exempts Google from all threat of suit based on laws such as copyright, consumer fraud, contract, property, tort, and publishing law, as to nearly everything Google might do with all books again. It blacks out all market pressure and people power demanding fairness. Competition is outlawed. In economic reality, the Registry has no function but to serve Google. This is a vision of aggregator-only total control, purged of all pesky, annoying individuals. The aggregators get to plunder the loot first, then toss their leftovers to preferred (“registered”) individuals.

More in that vein, plus an argument about unfair treatment of Inserts, at the link.

Do you think American Society of Journalists and Authors might Agree - this settlement biz reads more and more a lot like Uriah Heep? Where are the real owners?

ASJA has been active in the fight for writer’s rights from the beginning. We invite all non-fiction writers and journalists to join and help in the fray!