30 August 2009

Google Book Search Opt-Out Deadline

... is this Friday, 04 September 2009, unless again extended by the Court (a distinct possibility, but will depend upon the results of the fairness hearing in October, so don't count on it).

If you want to opt out, you need to do so one of two ways:

  • You may use the electronic form on the settlement website. For clarity, you should:

    • Do the form once for books and once for "inserts" (independent works printed in another book)
    • Use the conformed Library of Congress catalog entry for the author name wherever possible (and if you have a common name/pseudonym, include a link to the LoC search result, preferably as a tinyurl)
    • Contrary to the implications on the opt-out form, you need not (and probably should not) list specific items by title, unless you have taken appropriate legal counsel and, after considering that counsel and your particular circumstances, are opting out for some items but remaining in for others
    • Also contrary to the mealymouthed language on the form, you should not check the block at the bottom requesting that Google contact you, but do check the block second from the bottom requesting that Google not digitize your books/works-included-in-books
    • Not wait until the last moment — the system does not appear very robust
  • Send a signed, paper opt-out request — preferably certified, return-receipt-requested or tracked Priority Mail — to the settlement administrator

    Google Book Search Settlement Administrator
    c/o Rust Consulting
    PO Box 9364
    Minneapolis, MN 55440-9364

    that is postmarked on or before 04 September 2009; states whether you're a member of the "author sub-class" or the "publisher sub-class"; unambiguously identifies the author/publisher being opted out (see above); and is signed by a person specifically authorized to do so.

No one may charge you a fee for merely providing the opt-out service unless that person/business entity is a regular representative (e.g., your literary agent, your lawyer).

If you do not understand the ramifications of the settlement for your works, you should seek counsel now. If you cannot get counsel by the deadline, you should make a conscious decision to either opt out or stay in the settlement based on what you do know; letting this just pass by is not in your economic interest.

This is not legal advice for any particular person or situation. I think this settlement makes almost no economic sense for anyone, so on a "bad deal" basis I believe that authors should opt out... but that's an individual decision. I think this settlement makes even less legal sense, but it's quite technical (and, as noted, not legal advice, but legal commentary).