Friday, January 29, 2010

Google Shmoogle

The lit blogs and forums are buzzing as deadlines loom (and pass) for Google's plan to digitise every book published in the US, Canada, UK and Australia.
(The original plan covered the whole world!)

Agents are giving conflicting advice to their authors.
The Society of Authors says 'opt in'. My agent says 'opt out'.

'In' gives you greater control, theoretically - and you can always ask for your books to be removed later. You will also be eligible for any money that may or may not come your way.

'Out' means your books will be removed from Google's site but doesn't guarantee they won't scan them in future.

Few authors have the staying power and attention span to wade through the reams of complex information and work out how it applies to them.
Those who do, come to different conclusions.

They've divided us, and now they'll rule us.

Most authors, I suspect, have their heads under the duvet and are hoping it will all just go away.

And there's the rub.
If you do nothing, by default you've opted in.
(It was this factor that has caused the greatest controversy and is still being contested in the courts.)

But if you continue to do nothing, you don't lay claim to your books.
Which means you have given your 'permission' for your books to be digitised and sold but won't get any money.

In other words, doing nothing is the worst possible course of (in)action.

Yet I suspect that 'nothing' is exactly what most authors are going to do.

Now excuse me for being cynical, but if I'm right about the low take-up, that must add up to a humongous pot of unclaimed money.
Google say this will be held in a fund for future claims, but meanwhile it's presumably not going to just sit there doing nothing ...

So what exactly is Google's objective?
Why the controversial 'opt in by default' angle?
And the off-putting labyrinth of information?

***
What am I going to do?
I'd just made the decision to opt out ...
... and found the deadline was yesterday!
So I'm presumably in - and should now get in there and claim my books ...

Meanwhile, I may be new on Facebook, but I've just started a We Hate the Google Book Settlement group.
Because that's one thing I think we can all agree on.

7 comments:

John Taylor said...

I hate the idea that innumerable hours of creativity by more authors than I can name, never mind read, can be divided up and classified in this way. By the slight movement of an anonymous forefinger on an anonymous mouse – or even by an algorithm that need no human input.

Queenie said...

I detest corporate obfuscation. Hope your Facebook group takes off.

Queenie said...

Suspect this is relevant http://www.publicdomainmanifesto.org/node/8 although can't quite work out how (head too full of book plot to be intelligent about stuff like this right now) but thought I'd pass it on in case it's interesting or useful.

Liane Spicer said...

I guess I'm in the 'head under the duvet' crowd. Didn't even realize the deadline was yesterday.

:( :( :(
This entire issue leaves an extremely bad taste in my mouth.

Off to join that FB group...

Debi said...

John - I hate the idea that innumerable hours of creativity by more authors than I can name, never mind read, is taken up with just thinking about this!

Yer Maj - thanks but I can't bear the thought of checking yet another link.

Liane - you and a zillion others can join me under the duvet. It's gonna be crowded ...

BarbaraS said...

Or do what I did, forget your password and discover there's no way to retrieve it to find out what you did do when you logged in - I think they decided to bamboozle people instead, figuring that they'd just go away sick and tired of the whole thing.

Debi said...

My point exactly, Babs! Cos if you do that you're automatically in but won't be collecting any dosh that should be coming your way.

I may be a cynical old cow, but that gets my antennae twitching.