Eight Years Later, the Google Books Fight Lumbers On

My latest Publishers Weekly column, Eight Years Later, the Google Books Fight Lumbers On uses the occasion of the latest briefs in the Google Books lawsuit to reflect on why the case is still with us:

Like a pair of boxers staggering from their corners for the ninth round, Google and the Authors Guild traded another round of briefs last week in their long-running, slow-moving Google Books fight. There is very little left to be said at this point in the case, and they said it at great length. The question is, why are they still fighting? …

For the Authors Guild, going after Google is a matter of principle. The suit reflects a common sentiment among copyright owners: that Google is getting rich in a business that involves copyrighted content, so, therefore, a part of that profit is rightly theirs. But unlike in the now-settled publishers’ suit, the emphasis is on “rightly” rather than on”profit.” What the Authors Guild seeks is a judicial declaration of authorial power, an official statement from the courts recognizing the proper place of arts and letters in our national culture.

Thanks for posting the links to the PW columns here. I see your blog posts in my feed reader via RSS, but would miss your PW columns (in all senses of the word ‘miss’) if you didn’t alert us to them here.

A serious article with a link to tvtropes? Doubleplusgood!

(And thanks for the link to Robin Sloan’s book, it looks quite interesting.)

Quibble: saying that “Their [authors’] biggest digital problems have always from been hard-bargaining behemoths and scofflaw file-sharers” seems to me to be a bit simplistic, either on the characterization of the problems or the authors (where did “obscurity” go?), but perhaps this was intentionally tuned to your column’s audience?

Oh, I meant “biggest digital problems [from copyright law].” Authors have plenty of other digital problems to worry about: the distractions of social media, accidentally deleted drafts, and the difficulty of proofreading on a screen rather than on paper, to name just a few.