Book authors can collect from Google

HAVE you had any words published in books? If so, you need to check out the settlement between the Authors Guild in the US and Google over its making books available online. In particular, if you want to opt out of the settlement, your deadline is 5 May. See www.googlebooksettlement.com and settlement.authorsguild.org for more.

The Freelance is still finding out the details of how the settlement applies to authors (a term that includes illustrators and photographers) outside the US. It appears that authors of out-of-print books who register with the Book Rights Registry, created under the settlement, will get between 30 per cent and 40% of income from adverts, library licenses and pay-per-view charges on books.google.com, after cuts for Google and the publisher, but before Registry handling charges still to be calculated.

Authors of books still in print should check their contracts to see whether they've kept the right to have a share. You have until 5 January 2010 to claim cash for books Google has already digitised.  

Authors Guild Executive Director Paul Aiken comments on the settlement: "Authors are often considered complicated people. We don't agree with that. In fact, I can tell you very simply what all authors like: They like their books to be read, and, except for the most financially perverse of authors, they like a good royalty cheque."

  • The website http://books.google.com/booksrightsholders has a step-by-step guide to identifying which works have been digitised and on how to make a claim.
  • If you are a member of the Authors' Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS), they are looking into the possibility of submitting claims on behalf of their members, and are asking members to contact them so they can gauge how many would be interested in ALCS doing this on their behalf. See The settlement website the ALCS website for details.
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