wolfinthewood: Wolf's head in relief from romanesque tympanum at Kilpeck, Herefordshire (Default)
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The revised Google Book Settlement agreement was filed with the court yesterday evening.

The admirably tenacious James Grimmelmann of the New York Law School has worked through the night, tweeting as he went, making an initial analysis of the changes.

He has posted the revised settlement here, and, even more useful to those of us who have studied version one, he has also posted a version in which the changes are marked in blue.

I shall make a start here on covering the main points, primarily from a UK viewpoint:

The settlement now excludes all foreign works except those published in the UK, Canada and Australia.

Google and the plaintiffs shot themselves in the foot over the non-Anglophone countries when they sent out inadequately-translated notices. But excluding those countries also removes many of the best-organised objectors: among them the French, the Germans, and the Japanese. It also heads off trouble from China and India.

However, not all Anglophone countries are included. New Zealand is out; and so is India, which has a big English-language publishing sector. And Ireland is not included either, which is interesting.

In New Zealand the NZ Society of Authors opposed the settlement strongly, and lobbied their government, which agreed to meet with them to discuss how to address their concerns.

As I noted earlier this week, the Indian government has put diplomatic pressure on the US government over the GBS: presumably as a result of representations from Indian authors and/or publishers.

Two UK authors have been added as 'representative plaintiffs': the novelist, poet, dramatist and non-fiction writer Maureen Duffy and the novelist, memoirist and non-fiction writer Margaret Drabble.

Duffy is someone I have always respected and admired, as a writer, as an 'out' lesbian novelist in the sixties (a time when there really were no others) and as a very effective campaigner for the rights of UK authors (for example, in the matter of the Public Lending Right). It grieves me unspeakably to see her in this role.

Margaret Drabble is the current Chairman of the UK Society of Authors.

Maureen Duffy is the Honorary President of the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society.

I am not a member of either of these societies. But if either of them has widely consulted with its membership over the Google Book Settlement, news of this has not reached me.

And I wrote my paper The Google Book Settlement and European Authors largely because the accounts they were giving their members and other inquirers of the contents and implications of the original GBS agreement seemed to me to pass over some very cogent criticisms of it that I was encountering in the work of well-informed US legal commentators such as Lynn Chu, C. E. Petit, James Grimmelmann and Pamela Samuelson.

A question that must be asked is this: is it compatible with UK and European law that two individual citizens can purport to assign a perpetual licence to the intellectual property of a huge number of other UK citizens to a foreign company in a foreign court, without the property owners' express consent or even in many cases their knowledge?

There are two more new plaintiffs: Daniel Jay Baum and Robert Pullan. Baum is a Canadian writer on legal topics with strong academic connections.

Pullan is the Chair of the Australian Society of Authors. I cannot find that any of his handful of books is currently in print. His most recent book publication appears to have come out in 1994.

Two UK publishers have now been added as plaintiffs: Harlequin, the romance publisher, and Macmillan. UPDATE: Harlequin is a Canadian publisher.

The UK Publishers Association has stated that its members are divided over the settlement. Some have opted out: which, we do not know. The only UK publisher to stay in and object was Hachette UK, which owns Headline, Hodder, John Murray, Little, Brown, Octopus and one or two other imprints.

From Australia, Melbourne University Publishing and The Text Publishing Company have been added. I don't see a Canadian publisher here. UPDATE: Harlequin is a Canadian publisher.

Lunch calls. I hope to post more later today, but it may have to wait until tomorrow.

But hey: if you are a UK author reading this and you don't like what you see: this is crunch time.

Inform yourself. Tell your friends and acquaintances. Organise. Lobby.


Contact your elected representatives, the UK Culture Secretary, and the Culture, Media and Sport Committee.

The ALCS and (apparently) the Society of Authors have been assimilated by the Borg.

But: one thing the GBS agreement mark 2 does show is that where authors have successfully lobbied their governments to put pressure on the US, works published in those countries have been excluded from the scope of the settlement.

It is time for some tough resistance from the grass-roots.

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wolfinthewood: Wolf's head in relief from romanesque tympanum at Kilpeck, Herefordshire (Default)
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