The Authors Guild recently sent out a message to its members that should be of interest and concern to all Internet savvy people, not to mention all writers. The Guild, which has come out against Google’s Library Program, seems to have hope for the plans of a new coalition that includes Yahoo. The message said:
A coalition including Yahoo, Adobe Systems, Hewlett-Packard, and the libraries of the University of California and the University of Toronto announced today that they’re launching a book-scanning project that would make digitized texts searchable through Yahoo. Yahoo’s coalition took care to state that only works for which it has the rightsholders’ permission or are in the public domain would be included. Although we haven’t reviewed the details of the program yet, it sounds as though they’re going about this in a sensible way.
Yahoo’s new venture is further demonstration that the right to store books in digital form is commercially valuable, a right that should be licensed rather than appropriated.
The email also included a copy of a letter to the editor from Authors Guild President Nick Taylor, published by The New York Times, in response to an op-ed piece by Tim O’Reilly, a member of a Google advisory board and publisher of computer manuals who supports Google’s Library venture.
To the Editor:
Tim O’Reilly (“Search and Rescue,” Op-Ed, Sept. 28), who is on the publisher advisory board for Google Print, informs us of the many benefits of the Google Library program.
The program, which would digitize and store millions of books, has its merits, all of which can be achieved through proper licensing. Google knows its business; it expects to profit from this project. Certainly some of those profits should go to the authors who created the books.
By digitizing mountains of copyrighted books without permission, Google is exercising a renegade notion of eminent domain: Google decides what’s good for us and seizes private property to get it done.
Legitimate eminent domain is exercised by elected officials, however. And the property owners get paid.
There’s a better way: let’s build a real digital library, not just “snippets.” Writers are willing, but not at the cost of our rights.
President, Authors Guild
New York, Sept. 29, 2005
For further information, visit The Authors Guild.
And yesterday, in a e-newsletter I receive from Publishers Weekly, I read:
The Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group has pulled the company’s titles from the Google Print program to protest the scanning of copyrighted materials in the Google Library program. RLPG president Jed Lyons called Google Library’s scanning policy a “flagarant violation” of copyright laws, and has told Google it wants the books that have been scanned as part of Google Print removed from its database and the books returned.
Scarecrow Press, the publisher of my Henderson biography in progress, is under the umbrella of Rowman & Littlefield.