Authors Groups From U.K., Canada, Norway and Sweden Join Authors Guild, Australian Society of Authors, and Quebec Writers Union in Suit Against HathiTrust

J.R. Salamanca, Author of “Orphaned” Book, Also Enters

We filed an amended complaint this morning against HathiTrust, the University of Michigan and four other universities over the storage and use of millions of copyright-protected books.  The press release follows.

NEW YORK – The U.K. Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society, the Norwegian Nonfiction Writers and Translators Association, the Swedish Writers Union, The Writers’ Union of Canada, and four individual authors are among the new plaintiffs in an amended complaint filed today in Authors Guild v. HathiTrust.  Individual authors joining the lawsuit include University of Oslo professor Helge Rønning, Swedish novelist Erik Grundström, and American novelist J. R. Salamanca. The Authors League Fund, a 94-year-old organization supported by Authors Guild members that provides charitable assistance to book authors and dramatists, is also now a plaintiff, as holder of rights of to an “orphaned” book by Gladys Malvern.

The defendant universities have pooled the unauthorized scans of an estimated 7 million copyright-protected books, the rights to which are held by authors worldwide, into an online repository called HathiTrust.  In June, the University of Michigan, which oversees HathiTrust, announced plans to permit unlimited downloads by its students and faculty members of “orphaned” books (some consider works whose rights-owners cannot be found after a diligent search to be “orphans”). Michigan devised a set of procedures — including a protocol for searching for an author and posting the names of “orphan work candidates” at the HathiTrust website for 90 days – to determine whether it would deem a work an “orphan.” Several other schools joined the project in August.

Within days of the suit’s filing on September 12th, the Authors Guild, its members, and others commenting on its blog had developed strong leads to dozens of authors and estates holding rights to the first 167 works listed as “orphan candidates” at HathiTrust’s website. Four living authors were on HathiTrust’s list. So were significant literary estates, such as those of Pulitzer Prize winners James Gould Cozzens and Walter Lippmann and the philosopher Sidney Hook. Foreign authors were also on the list, including André Missenard, who died in Paris in August. At least three of the works are still in print. Simple Google searches turned up most of the leads in minutes, including one that led to the author of “The Lost Country,” J. R. Salamanca.  Under Michigan’s protocols, unlimited e-book downloads of Mr. Salamanca’s book were scheduled to be made available to an estimated 250,000 students and faculty members on November 8th.

“How is it they couldn’t find Jack Salamanca?” asked literary agent John White, who has represented the author for more than ten years. “He’s a bestselling novelist, he’s lived in suburban Maryland for decades, he’s in the University of Maryland’s current online catalog as an emeritus professor, and he signed an e-book agreement for “Lilith” four weeks ago. It boggles the mind.”

Michigan announced on September 16th that it was suspending, but not ending, its “orphan works” program. Its online servers continue to host an estimated 7 million digitized, copyright-protected books.  Millions of those books are believed to be in print, with e-book versions available for many of them.

“You don’t just take someone’s property,” said Mats Söderlund, chairman of the Swedish Writers Union. “If they want a digital book, they should pay for it. If it’s not yet available digitally, it probably will be soon. Things are moving very quickly.”

“These are major, well-funded U.S. research institutions capable of great things,” said Greg Hollingshead, chair of The Writers’ Union of Canada. “They could have found most of these authors had they cared to, but it seems they didn’t. They just wanted to release e-books for free. They don’t take literary property rights seriously, so why should any of us trust their security measures? If they’re hacked, and digital files of 40,000 Canadian books are released, how are Canadian authors ever again to receive significant revenues from those works?”

“I’ve been in this business for decades, but this is one of the craziest things I’ve ever seen,” said Trond Andreassen, president of the Norwegian Nonfiction Writers and Translators Association. “These American universities, with Google’s help, decide to digitize and put on their servers thousands of books that were published in Norway. Why didn’t they ask? We can find the authors, but those authors have rights, and sometimes the answer might be no.”

The Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society, based in London, has licensed secondary uses of its member-authors’ works for more than 30 years. “We represent more than 50,000 book authors,” said chief executive Owen Atkinson. “On behalf of our members, we negotiate agreements that enable legal access to hundreds of thousands of books, including at least 35,000 books that appear to be on HathiTrust’s servers. It concerns us greatly that our members have neither consented to the digitization nor have they any say in how these works might be used in the future.”

Although many U.S. universities, including Harvard, Princeton, and Stanford, have participated in Google’s library digitization program, most allow Google to scan only books that are in the public domain. Only a few, principally defendants Michigan and California, have allowed Google to scan books protected by copyright. As state-run institutions, both schools are shielded by 11th Amendment sovereign immunity protections from paying damages for copyright infringement.

“Universities are important cultural bastions, valued by all of us,” said Scott Turow, president of the Authors Guild, “but they need to play that role thoughtfully.  In this case, university defendants are using their immunity from money damages to act as pirates, rather than custodians, of our literary heritage.  The massive unauthorized digitization project in which they participated has now imperiled the literary property rights of millions of authors from all over the world.  Many of those authors have devoted much of their careers to creating works they hope will have cultural or educational significance. Universities should be at the forefront of safeguarding authors’ rights and livelihoods, so their libraries can continue to find many new books worth collecting.”

Comments: more
  • http://siguientecap.com/ Swedish Corporate Services

    Swedish
    companies are in general very productive and environmentally conscious
     

  • Jeremy York

    There are a number of ongoing misapprehensions about the scope of planned uses of orphan works in HathiTrust by libraries participating in the Orphan Works Project. For instance, “unlimited downloads” are NOT permitted. See http://www.hathitrust.org/authors_guild_lawsuit_information#Details for detailed information about access to works that reside in HathiTrust.

  • Jeremy York

    There are a number of ongoing misapprehensions about the scope of planned uses of orphan works in HathiTrust by libraries participating in the Orphan Works Project. For instance, “unlimited downloads” are NOT permitted. See http://www.hathitrust.org/authors_guild_lawsuit_information#Details for detailed information about access to works that reside in HathiTrust.

  • RAmore

    A couple of questions and a couple of comments.

    Do those commenting here have jobs for which they are paid? Why aren’t authors supposed to expect payment too?  Writing is a job.  Writers have bills to pay.

    Isn’t the USA a country where the rule of law applies, as part of the bedrock of  democracy?  Or is it OK to ignore the laws if you think they are inconvenient?

    Authors don’t want their books to be unobtainable.  They are in the forefront of getting their books out there so they can be bought, legitimately, as ebooks.  Authors are getting rights back from publishers and publishing their work as ebooks, themselves.  And some publishers are digitizing their lists as well.  Perhaps not fast enough for some people, but it’s happening, and accelerating.

    The problem of unobtainable or out-of-print books is not solved by giving the world free digital access to them.  That would simply ensure that no one could afford to be a writer in the future.  The answer is to make those books obtainable, for a fair payment, so that both sides get what they need.  Don’t support lawbreaking.  Press publishers and authors to produce digital versions of out-of-print books. 
     

  • RAmore

    A couple of questions and a couple of comments.

    Do those commenting here have jobs for which they are paid? Why aren’t authors supposed to expect payment too?  Writing is a job.  Writers have bills to pay.

    Isn’t the USA a country where the rule of law applies, as part of the bedrock of  democracy?  Or is it OK to ignore the laws if you think they are inconvenient?

    Authors don’t want their books to be unobtainable.  They are in the forefront of getting their books out there so they can be bought, legitimately, as ebooks.  Authors are getting rights back from publishers and publishing their work as ebooks, themselves.  And some publishers are digitizing their lists as well.  Perhaps not fast enough for some people, but it’s happening, and accelerating.

    The problem of unobtainable or out-of-print books is not solved by giving the world free digital access to them.  That would simply ensure that no one could afford to be a writer in the future.  The answer is to make those books obtainable, for a fair payment, so that both sides get what they need.  Don’t support lawbreaking.  Press publishers and authors to produce digital versions of out-of-print books. 
     

  • http://twitter.com/heyidiot Matthew Simpson

    OK, well it seems the kids aren’t playing by your rules, so you’re taking your ball and going home. No one can play now; these works will go back to the obscurity from whence they came.

    So it goes…

  • http://twitter.com/heyidiot Matthew Simpson

    OK, well it seems the kids aren’t playing by your rules, so you’re taking your ball and going home. No one can play now; these works will go back to the obscurity from whence they came.

    So it goes…

  • http://profiles.google.com/dudeonthecouch11 John Dorman

    @ocatagon:disqus 
      don’t you understand you just listed every reason why they NEED this lawsuit. They haven’t moved on, They haven’t embraced the digital age. They will never make their digital library available to the public at any cost. 

    They think that they’re losing all these lost royalties because someone somewhere is digitizing their book. So to make back those royalties they’re going to sue and I don’t think they care who it is as long as they have deep pockets to make up for those “lost royalties”. 

    When will your author’s understand that you are not looking out for their best interest. These are libraries were talking about. Do your authors get a nickel every time I check out a book? Do you think that I will pass around the digital copy of your book? Is that a bad thing? Couldn’t I do that with the physical book I can also get at the library?

    Just because someone somewhere reads your book because it was easily accessible doesn’t mean that they would have paid money for a book they could have never even found in the first place. If you make it accessible and you make the price reasonable then people will gladly pay for your works. Throwing around rhetoric like this piece will just throw fuel on the fire. 

  • http://profiles.google.com/dudeonthecouch11 John Dorman

    @ocatagon:disqus 
      don’t you understand you just listed every reason why they NEED this lawsuit. They haven’t moved on, They haven’t embraced the digital age. They will never make their digital library available to the public at any cost. 

    They think that they’re losing all these lost royalties because someone somewhere is digitizing their book. So to make back those royalties they’re going to sue and I don’t think they care who it is as long as they have deep pockets to make up for those “lost royalties”. 

    When will your author’s understand that you are not looking out for their best interest. These are libraries were talking about. Do your authors get a nickel every time I check out a book? Do you think that I will pass around the digital copy of your book? Is that a bad thing? Couldn’t I do that with the physical book I can also get at the library?

    Just because someone somewhere reads your book because it was easily accessible doesn’t mean that they would have paid money for a book they could have never even found in the first place. If you make it accessible and you make the price reasonable then people will gladly pay for your works. Throwing around rhetoric like this piece will just throw fuel on the fire. 

  • Anonymous

    Well, after looking at your website I see you offer backinprint.com to get out-of-print books back in circulation. I guess there’s no need for universities to do anything now.

    Wait… all backinprint.com does is offer digital copies to booksellers to be re-printed on paper. That’s the best service you can offer your members? Don’t you know the world has moved on?

    Perhaps if your digital library were made available, the universities would pay a lot of money for access to it? It has to be cheaper and easier than scanning all those out-of-print books. Then you could pay royalties to all those writers you represent.

  • Anonymous

    Well, after looking at your website I see you offer backinprint.com to get out-of-print books back in circulation. I guess there’s no need for universities to do anything now.

    Wait… all backinprint.com does is offer digital copies to booksellers to be re-printed on paper. That’s the best service you can offer your members? Don’t you know the world has moved on?

    Perhaps if your digital library were made available, the universities would pay a lot of money for access to it? It has to be cheaper and easier than scanning all those out-of-print books. Then you could pay royalties to all those writers you represent.

  • Anonymous

    I’d be interested in knowing what the Author’s Guild is planning to do to make the millions of out-of-print but still-under-copyright books available to the public. The reason the universities did this is because nobody else is bothering. Why? Because there is little to no money in it. Well, sometimes money isn’t the only reason things happen in this world.

    Are your writers happy that millions of books are locked away in the copyright vault never to be read again? Do they realize that if you win this little fight, they still won’t be making any money from these books because they will remain out-of-print? And the reason they’re out of print is because there isn’t enough money to make it worth printing, meaning the authors will never be making enough in royalties to worry if people are reading their books for free or not. Isn’t it enough for writers that people can actually read their books?

    Sounds like you’re just sore that somebody else is doing your job. Where is the Author’s Guild’s digital library? The internet’s been around for over 20 years. It’s tired of waiting.

  • Anonymous

    I’d be interested in knowing what the Author’s Guild is planning to do to make the millions of out-of-print but still-under-copyright books available to the public. The reason the universities did this is because nobody else is bothering. Why? Because there is little to no money in it. Well, sometimes money isn’t the only reason things happen in this world.

    Are your writers happy that millions of books are locked away in the copyright vault never to be read again? Do they realize that if you win this little fight, they still won’t be making any money from these books because they will remain out-of-print? And the reason they’re out of print is because there isn’t enough money to make it worth printing, meaning the authors will never be making enough in royalties to worry if people are reading their books for free or not. Isn’t it enough for writers that people can actually read their books?

    Sounds like you’re just sore that somebody else is doing your job. Where is the Author’s Guild’s digital library? The internet’s been around for over 20 years. It’s tired of waiting.

  • Pat silver-lasky

    I discovered that my book, “Love Scene (Co-written with Jesse L. Lasky, Jr.)has been translated into Chinese and Publishedin Hong Kong, I wrote to them and here is thre reply. Read from bottom up 
    Dear Ms Silver-Lasky Pat
     
    We have the e-version of the book below from Superstar Digital Library but not the print edition.  I understand that the print edition is out of print now.
    I copy this email to Mr Shi Qiang of Superstar and see if he can help you to locate an e-copy.
     
    Best regards,
    Angela KO
    University of Hong Kong Libraries
     
    AUTHOR
    Lasky, Jesse L., 1910-1988.
    TITLE
    Love scene. Chinese
    Wu tai lian ren [electronic resource] : ji Laolunsi Aoliwei’er yu Feiwen Li / Xiao Jiexi Lasiji, Pate Xi’erfei zhu ; Wu Yanren, Zhang Jingrong yi ; Zhao Weibo jiao.
    舞台戀人 [electronic resource] : 記勞倫斯・奧利維爾與費雯・利 / 小傑西・拉斯基, 帕特・西爾費著 ; 吳延仁, 張晶榮譯 ; 趙威伯校.
    IMPRINT
    Beijing : Wen hua yi shu chu ban she, 1985.
    北京 : 文化藝術出版社, 1985.
    EDITION
    Beijing di 1 ban.
    北京第1版.
    OCLC #
    ocn505908059
    VAR. TITLE
    Laolunsi Aoliwei’er yu Feiwen Li
    勞倫斯・奧利維爾與費雯・利
    DESCRIPT.
    297 p., [8] p. of plates : ill.
    NOTE
    Translation of: Love scene: the story of Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh.
    Electronic reproduction. Beijing : SuperStar, 2005. System requirements: SuperStar Reader. Available via World Wide Web.
     
    From: “Silver-Lasky Pat”
    Date: 9 October, 2011 2:57:37 AM GMT+08:00
    To: “Peter E. SIDORKO”
    Subject: Concerning the author of a book.

     
    Mr Peter Sidorko
    University Librarian
    University of Hong Kong Library

    Dear sir,
    I am the co-author of LOVE SCENE, a biography of Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh, written with my late husband, Jesse L. Lasky, Jr. published in 1978.

     I recently discovered that a translation exists in Chinese and is in your library, written by Yanren Wu.

    WorldCat lists it with the following comment:   “Wu tai lian ren : ji Luolunsi Aoliwei’er yu Fein wen li”

    While I am delighted to hear of this edition, and while no royalties have ever been received, I have never been sent a copy.

    I should very much like to have a copy, and while I understand it is no longer in print, if you could please advise me how I might obtain a copy of the Chinese edition I would be most grateful.

    Perhaps you could put me in contact with the chinese author or publisher?

    Pat Silver-Lasky
    email: patsilverlasky@cox.net
    phone:(949) 600 5291

    address:  28862  Jaeger Drive
    Laguna Niguel, 92677-1324, California, USA
            =

  • Pat silver-lasky

    I discovered that my book, “Love Scene (Co-written with Jesse L. Lasky, Jr.)has been translated into Chinese and Publishedin Hong Kong, I wrote to them and here is thre reply. Read from bottom up 
    Dear Ms Silver-Lasky Pat
     
    We have the e-version of the book below from Superstar Digital Library but not the print edition.  I understand that the print edition is out of print now.
    I copy this email to Mr Shi Qiang of Superstar and see if he can help you to locate an e-copy.
     
    Best regards,
    Angela KO
    University of Hong Kong Libraries
     
    AUTHOR
    Lasky, Jesse L., 1910-1988.
    TITLE
    Love scene. Chinese
    Wu tai lian ren [electronic resource] : ji Laolunsi Aoliwei’er yu Feiwen Li / Xiao Jiexi Lasiji, Pate Xi’erfei zhu ; Wu Yanren, Zhang Jingrong yi ; Zhao Weibo jiao.
    舞台戀人 [electronic resource] : 記勞倫斯・奧利維爾與費雯・利 / 小傑西・拉斯基, 帕特・西爾費著 ; 吳延仁, 張晶榮譯 ; 趙威伯校.
    IMPRINT
    Beijing : Wen hua yi shu chu ban she, 1985.
    北京 : 文化藝術出版社, 1985.
    EDITION
    Beijing di 1 ban.
    北京第1版.
    OCLC #
    ocn505908059
    VAR. TITLE
    Laolunsi Aoliwei’er yu Feiwen Li
    勞倫斯・奧利維爾與費雯・利
    DESCRIPT.
    297 p., [8] p. of plates : ill.
    NOTE
    Translation of: Love scene: the story of Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh.
    Electronic reproduction. Beijing : SuperStar, 2005. System requirements: SuperStar Reader. Available via World Wide Web.
     
    From: “Silver-Lasky Pat”
    Date: 9 October, 2011 2:57:37 AM GMT+08:00
    To: “Peter E. SIDORKO”
    Subject: Concerning the author of a book.

     
    Mr Peter Sidorko
    University Librarian
    University of Hong Kong Library

    Dear sir,
    I am the co-author of LOVE SCENE, a biography of Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh, written with my late husband, Jesse L. Lasky, Jr. published in 1978.

     I recently discovered that a translation exists in Chinese and is in your library, written by Yanren Wu.

    WorldCat lists it with the following comment:   “Wu tai lian ren : ji Luolunsi Aoliwei’er yu Fein wen li”

    While I am delighted to hear of this edition, and while no royalties have ever been received, I have never been sent a copy.

    I should very much like to have a copy, and while I understand it is no longer in print, if you could please advise me how I might obtain a copy of the Chinese edition I would be most grateful.

    Perhaps you could put me in contact with the chinese author or publisher?

    Pat Silver-Lasky
    email: patsilverlasky@cox.net
    phone:(949) 600 5291

    address:  28862  Jaeger Drive
    Laguna Niguel, 92677-1324, California, USA
            =