Archive for the ‘books’ Category

Google Antitrust Investigation

16th June 2009

Last week The New York Times reported that the Justice Department in the USA has issued formal request for information from Google, the Association of American Publishers, the Authors Guild and individual publishers in relation to an antitrust investigation of the Google Book Settlement.

Critics said that the settlement would unfairly grant Google a monopoly over the commercialization of millions of books.

The Justice Department’s requests do not necessarily mean that the government will oppose the settlement. But the department’s investigation could delay any approval of the settlement, antitrust specialists said.

“The government must be a lot further along with this than people thought,” said Gary Reback, a lawyer who wrote a book on antitrust. “Now, there is a big boulder sitting on the judge’s desk. It is hard to see the judge approving this if a government investigation is pending.”

Judge Denny Chin of Federal District Court in Manhattan, who is overseeing the settlement, is to hold a hearing in September.

2009 Irish Book Awards

7th May 2009

The winners of the 2009 Irish Book Awards were announced last night:

Hughes & Hughes Irish Novel of the Year
The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry

The Argosy Irish Non-Fiction Book of the Year
Stepping Stones by Seamus Heaney and Dennis O’ Driscoll

The Dublin Airport Authority Irish Children’s Book of the Year – Jnr
Before You Sleep by Benji Bennett

The Dublin Airport Authority Irish Children’s Book of the Year – Snr
Skulduggery Pleasant – Playing With Fire by Derek Landy

International Education Services Ltd Best Irish Newcomer of the Year
Confessions of a Fallen Angel by Ronan O’Brien

The Best Irish-Published Book of the Year
The Parish by Alice Taylor

The Energise Sport Irish Sports Book of the Year
Ronan O’Gara, My Autobiography by Ronan O’Gara

The Tubridy Show Listeners’ Choice Book of the Year
The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry

The Easons Irish Popular Fiction Book of the Year
This Charming Man by Marian Keyes

Ireland AM Crime Fiction Award
Blood Runs Cold by Alex Barclay

Lifetime Achievement in Literary Ireland Award
Edna O’Brien

Google Deal Opt-Out Extended

29th April 2009

Yahoo News reports that a federal court overseeing the Google Book Settlement extended the Opt-Out Deadline in the case from May 5, 2009 to September 4, 2009 (the “Extended Opt-Out Deadline”).

The Extended Opt-Out Deadline is the new date by which class members must decide whether to remain in the Settlement Class and receive the benefits of the Settlement, object to the Settlement, or opt out of the Settlement.

The change in the Opt-Out Deadline has caused the Final Fairness Hearing date to be rescheduled, from June 11, 2009 to October 7, 2009. This is the new date of the hearing for the court to consider whether to grant final approval of the settlement. All other deadlines and key dates in the case remain the same, including May 5, 2009 as the date on or before which a book must have been scanned in order to be entitled to a Cash Payment.

For further information on the Google Settlement Deal consult my previous summary of the subject, and also a recent article by American literary agent Ashley Grayson.

Irish Book Awards 09

3rd April 2009

Voting is now open in the Irish Book Awards.

Select your favourite book in each of the ten categories, and you’re added to a draw where three winners will receive €250 of National Book Tokens.

Voting closes on May 1st 2009.

Google Book Deal

2nd April 2009

The IPSG would like to bring the Google Book Settlement to the attention of Irish authors.

In 2004 Google began digitising all the books in the University of Michigan library. Shortly afterwards the Authors Guild, the Association of American Publishers, and a group of authors and publishers filed a class-action lawsuit for copyright infringement.

In November 2008 those representatives reached an out-of-court settlement with Google that would — if approved by federal court — allow Google to publish online out-of-print books for reading, sales, institutional licensing, ad sales, and other publishing exploitations.

The settlement gave the class-action attorneys $30 million, a new governing rights body called the Book Rights Registry (BRR) $35 million, and set aside $45 million for writers infringed up to now. The BRR will act as the agency that will forward payments of 63 per cent of revenue earned by Google to authors for future use of their works. You can read the Authors Guild’s statement online about the settlement.

This deal remains subject to a final fairness hearing, which is scheduled for June 11, 2009.

Last month a conference organised by the Kernochan Centre for Law, Media and the Arts discussed the ramifications of the deal, and raised concerns. These issues are never straightforward. Wired has pointed out that the law school is funded in part by Microsoft, one of Google’s oldest competitors.

At this point Google has digitised over seven million books, and now has the non-exclusive right to digitise every book published before January 5, 2009. Google will have to negotiate directly with publishers for rights to all works published after January 5th, 2009.

Authors who want their books excluded from the settlement must formally opt-out by May 5, 2009.

Authors who wish to agree to the terms of the settlement must claim every edition of their book(s) associated with their name that has been published in the USA. They will receive an once-off payment of at least $60 per book from Google to cover any infringement of their copyright so far. Further payment for online use of the texts will either be charged as a flat fee, or writers can ask Google to calculate an “optimal price” for their book based on demand.

The Irish Times published a story on the matter last week.

At a recent seminar, Samantha Holman, chief executive of the Irish Copyright Licensing Agency, was worred that many Irish writers were unaware of the terms of the Google Book Settlement.

Although the settlement was for a class action suit in the US, Holman notes that Google was required to notify copyright groups everywhere in the world, and says the settlement notice warned global copyright holders “to assume that you own a US copyright interest in your book”. Holman says authors can probably expect a similar settlement with Google in future in countries and territories outside the US and cautioned authors against assuming the company might find little commercial value in the project.

“Google has been very successful so far, and there’s no reason to think they won’t be very successful at this,” she says.

Holman notes that some Irish writers have even found their doctoral thesis listed on the Google settlement site and so she encourages anyone who has ever written anything to search under their name for any works. The settlement “is not the perfect solution by any means. But it is the solution being proposed,” she told authors. “You have to start reading your contracts carefully.”

Finally, this week Google announced a deal with Sony that will make 500,000 public domain titles available for download from Google Book Search in a format that is compatible with Sony’s ebook Reader.