Monthly Archives: February 2011

Google Book Settlement Update: Court Extends Filing Deadline for Cash Payments

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At the request of authors, publishers and Google, the court has extended the deadline to file for an upfront payment in the Google Book Settlement. Any author or publisher claiming an upfront payment — a “Cash Payment” — will now have until one year after the Court’s final approval of the settlement to file.

Authors whose works were scanned by Google on or before May 5, 2009 may be entitled to claim a Cash Payment. If you are not claiming a Cash Payment, you may file at any time.

The deadline to remove your work from all databases (we don’t recommend this, since it may be irrevocable — you’ll have more flexibility by simply blocking displays) is still April 5, 2011.

Find out whether your work was scanned, and read the filing instructions here: Google Book Search Claims

Final approval of the Google Book Settlement is still pending.

Re: Authors Guild Op-Ed on Copyright in New York Times

For those of you who may have missed it, on Tuesday The New York Times published an op-ed on copyright policy by Scott Turow, Paul Aiken, and James Shapiro. Scott Turow testified yesterday before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, “Targeting Websites Dedicated to Stealing American Intellectual Property.” We’ll post his written testimony soon.

The opening to the op-ed follows.

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Scott Turow’s New York Times Op-Ed on Shakespeare’s Paywall

Read Scott Turow’s New York Times op-ed here.

Scott Turow to Testify Before the Senate Judiciary Committee

Authors Guild President Scott Turow will be testifying this Wednesday at the Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearing, “Targeting Websites Dedicated To Stealing American Intellectual Property.” More details to follow.

The E-Book Royalty Mess: An Interim Fix

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To mark the one-year anniversary of the Great Blackout, Amazon’s weeklong shut down of e-commerce for nearly all of Macmillan’s titles, we’re sending out a series of alerts on the state of e-books, authorship, and publishing. The first installment (“How Apple Saved Barnes & Noble. Probably.”) discussed the outcome, of that battle, which introduced a modicum of competition into the distribution of e-books. The second, (“E-Book Royalty Math: The House Always Wins”) took up the long-simmering e-royalty debate, and showed that publishers generally do significantly better on e-book sales than on hardcover sales, while authors always do worse

Today, we look at the implications of that disparity, and suggest an interim solution to minimize the harm to authors.

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Parties to Google Book Settlement Ask for Filing Extension

February 11, 2011. Authors, publishers and Google have filed a stipulation asking the Court to extend the deadline for filing claims to receive an upfront payment, — a “Cash Payment” — in the Google Book Search settlement. The current deadline under the settlement, which is being reviewed by the court, is March 31, 2011. If the extension is granted, authors and publishers will have until one year after the Court approves the settlement to make a claim for a Cash Payment.
 
Under the settlement, only those rightsholders whose works were scanned by Google on or before May 5, 2009, are entitled to claim a Cash Payment. Payment for the unauthorized digitization of entire works will be at least $60. (This payment is separate from the settlement’s revenue-sharing arrangements, which provide — among other things — that authors controlling the rights to out-of-print works covered by the settlement are entitled to most of the revenues for uses of their works.)
 
If you are not claiming a Cash Payment, you may file at any time.
 
Follow the filing instructions here: Google Book Search Claims
 
We’ll inform you of other developments in our lawsuit against Google as soon as we can.

E-Book Royalty Math: The House Always Wins

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To mark the one-year anniversary of the Great Blackout, Amazon’s weeklong shut down of e-commerce for nearly all of Macmillan’s titles, we’re sending out a series of alerts this week and next on the state of e-books, authorship, and publishing. The first installment (“How Apple Saved Barnes & Noble. Probably.”) discussed the outcome, one year later, of that battle. Today, we look at the e-royalty debate, which has been simmering for a while, but is likely to soon heat up as the e-book market grows.

E-book royalty rates for major trade publishers have coalesced, for the moment, at 25% of the publisher’s receipts. As we’ve pointed out previously, this is contrary to longstanding tradition in trade book publishing, in which authors and publishers effectively split the net proceeds of book sales (that’s how the industry arrived at the standard hardcover royalty rate of 15% of list price). Among the ills of this radical pay cut is the distorting effect it has on publishers’ incentives: publishers generally do significantly better on e-book sales than they do on hardcover sales. Authors, on the other hand, always do worse.

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How Apple Saved Barnes & Noble. Probably.

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Happy blackout anniversary! Where were you when the lights went out? We’re sending out a series of alerts this week and next that look at the state of e-books, authorship and publishing to mark the one-year anniversary of the Great Blackout, when Amazon attempted to protect its near complete dominance of the rapidly growing e-book market through a stunning, punitive act against a publisher that dared to challenge its terms. (To see our account of this showdown as it happened — posted last Groundhog Day — go to “The Right Battle at the Right Time.”)

It was one year ago last Saturday that Amazon turned out the lights on nearly all of Macmillan’s books, removing the “buy buttons” from the print and electronic editions of thousands of titles. Macmillan authors, many of whom had linked their websites to Amazon pages that were suddenly disabled and useless, found themselves cut off from readers who frequented the dominant online bookstore.

Amazon’s stunning move was a preemptive strike, an attempt to keep Macmillan from going through with its plan to shift to an “agency model” for selling e-books. Macmillan, which immediately saw its online sales plummet, stood firm and prevailed: Amazon ended the blackout after a week.

The story of the blackout and its aftermath reveals much about the high-stakes device and format war that’s reshaping the publishing industry. Last year’s Amazon-Macmillan showdown was a critical battle in that war.

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