Saturday, May 02, 2009's Google Books FAQ Is Incomplete has published a Frequently Asked Questions article about the Google Books Mess -- what Wired calls "The Fight over the Google of All Libraries." Go to

The piece is witty and readable and basically accurate, except for one incomplete answer:


  • Is the opposition to the settlement all about the so-called orphans?
  • Yes....



    The correct answer is, "Orphan works are front and center, but there are numerous other issues from both author's rights and public interest perspectives. The settlement is a bad deal for authors who have been infringed by Google. Also, the impossibly dense and global model for Google's future practices, including an illegal license-by-default mechanism, is effectively a compulsory license that has no place in private litigation. Resolution of bedrock copyright policy problems affecting everyone are properly the province of Congress, or at the very least of industry-wide negotiations involving all the stakeholders."

    Irv Muchnick


    Blogger Anita Bartholomew said...

    The Wired writer seems to have relied on other articles rather than on actually reading the settlement because Wired's FAQ got at least one more issue wrong:

    >>10. What about anthologies or photos licensed for use in a book? How does that work?

    Well, that’s complicated. That’s partially why the agreement is 334 pages long.<<

    Sorry, Wired. This issue isn't complicated and isn't why the settlement is 334 pages long. (The actual agreement,where all the details are laid out, minus the attachments, is about 150 pages long and yes, it's complicated, but not for the reasons Wired mentions. The other major problem is, it's vague.)

    If you have a piece in an anthology or you've written a foreword or had your text excerpted in a book by someone else, and you've separately registered that work, what you have, per the settlement, is an insert. The settlement sets aside about $5 per infringement for inserts. (Only registered works are covered by the settlement). That's not at all complex and it doesn't take hundreds of pages to explain.

    Here is a summary about "inserts" from the Google FAQ:

    >>Q:What kinds of writings are considered "Inserts?"
    A: Examples of Inserts include forewords, afterwords, prologues, epilogues, poems, quotations, letters; textual excerpts from other Books, periodicals or other works; song lyrics; musical notation; children’s Book illustrations; or tables, charts and graphs that are not pictorial works.

    Q: Are there any works that are excluded from the definition of "Insert?"
    A: Yes. Excluded from the definition of "Insert" are:
    * Pictorial works, such as photographs, illustrations (other than children’s Book illustrations), maps and paintings; and
    * Works that are in the public domain under U.S. copyright law.<<

    - Anita Bartholomew

    7:55 AM  
    Blogger Irv Muchnick said...

    Anita's comment, above, is correct, as usual.

    8:25 AM  

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