The United States Copyright Office is weighing in on the Google Books/Authors Guild settlement controversy. From Yahoo! News and Reuters:
Google Inc’s plan to digitize millions of books as part of a class action settlement wrongly creates a virtually compulsory license for books, the U.S. register of copyrights said on Thursday.
A U.S. court has imposed a preliminary injunction against the publication of an unauthorized sequel to J.D. Salinger’s classic Catcher in the Rye. Salinger is suing the author of the sequel for copyright infringement, and sought to stop publication of the work until the copyright case can be heard. The sequel’s author is appealing the injunction.
More details are available at The Book Blog.
I can’t proclaim any special significant knowledge of the legal system or whether Google’s plan to create a digital library from copyrighted material is a detriment to authors and publishers. The Writer Beware blog has a good account of one author who opted out of the now famous Google Books Search settlement and her reasons for doing so.
It’s not the display of bibliographic information, or even snippets, that I object to–it’s the possible uses the settlement empowers Google to make of my work down the road (including selling my books in electronic and POD form). If those uses were limited and clearly defined, I might not have a problem–but they aren’t, and I just can’t see allowing such a sweeping license to my work, where the implications of granting that license are so unclear.
Some more information about the Google Books settlement with the Association of American Publishers and the Authors Guild is available at The Guardian.
Some months ago (about six, to be precise), I submitted an application with the United States Copyright Office to obtain a registered copyright for my time travel-related novella Timecast. According to the Copyright Office website, it takes an average of four months to procure the copyright and receive the copyright certificate in the mail.
My certificate, which turns out to be an exact photocopy of the form I mailed to the office with an attached message from the Copyright Registerer notifying me that my copyright has been registered, arrived Saturday, Feb. 16, 2008. My application and fee for registration arrived at the Registerer’s office Friday, Aug. 10, 2007.
Now, I’m willing to forgive the delay because I am quite certain a great deal of research goes into whether a copyright applicant should, indeed, be certified by the Registerer’s office as owner of said copyright.
I also understand that this is “government work,” which is typically much slower than service performed by the private sector.
However, I do think the U.S. Copyright Office is misleading the public a bit with the four-month statement on its website. My certificate took two months longer than that to arrive in my mailbox.
In fact, I had, as of a couple of months ago, given up on obtaining my certificate, assumed that I had been rejected because I missed some minor detail in the submission guidelines for my copyright.
Still and all, I am happy to have the piece of paper stating that my creative work is officially mine.