Lovely piece over on Kottke.org about the latest Google Print lawsuit. It recounts a letter from an author whose publisher refused to put her book in Google Print. My favorite bit:
Someone asked me recently, “Meghann, how can you say you don’t mind people reading parts of your book for free? What if someone xeroxed your book and was handing it out for free on street corners?”
I replied, “Well, it seems to be working for Jesus.”
I continue to be disappointed by the reaction of my peers in the publishing industry. While they say they support Google Print and only worry about the precedent if Google Library’s opt out position on being scanned is fair use, I believe they’re just jealous of their prerogatives as gatekeepers of content. But they’ve fallen down on the job, with the vast majority of works that they claim to be seeking to protect their rights in actually left to molder in the trash heaps of memory. They say they want publishers to opt-in, but for most of the works in question, they no longer even know if they own the rights to be able to opt in. The works that are most in question are those that are likely unavailable except in libraries or used bookshops. As I’ve said before, Google’s opt out approach is the only way to cut the Gordian knot of forgotten rights and permissions.