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Will The Google Settlement Leave Ursula Le Guin Dispossessed?

Illustration for article titled Will The Google Settlement Leave Ursula Le Guin Dispossessed?

Now that Google has declared war on China, can it take on a diminutive 80-year-old science-fiction and fantasy author? Probably, but Ursula K. Le Guin is not going down without a fight.

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It all started when the formidable author of the classic Earthsea novels and, most recently, the Virgil-inspired Lavinia, resigned her long membership in the Authors Guild over the group's support of the Google settlement on copyrighted material; that letter here. Le Guin is also trying to enlist as many writers as she can to oppose what she calls the Google Putsch.

She writes on the blog Book View Cafe:

How, where, can I ask writers who are unhappy with the Settlement to speak up - to stand up and be counted? We don't have to agree on every detail, but I think there are a lot of us who see it as urgently important to let it be known that writers support the principle of copyright, and want the Copyright Office, the judges, the publishers, and the libraries to know that we intend to keep control of our work, in print or out, printed or electronic, believing that the people who do the work, rather than any corporation, should have the major voice in how it's used and who profits from it.

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Le Guin's website is here. She submitted the petition to Judge Chin today. She writes:

Our copyrights, our living, are at issue.

Illustration for article titled Will The Google Settlement Leave Ursula Le Guin Dispossessed?

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DISCUSSION

I don't understand why this is a creeping horror of a deal for anyone. You claim your stuff and get paid for it. You opt out of having your stuff be a part of the settlement or you opt in. You file an objection if you're unhappy. Maybe they listen, maybe they don't - that part's tough.

Books are going to be digitized. This is a fact. I get that each and every author would love to negotiate the terms of the agreement one on one and get the best possible deal for themselves. Is that realistic? No, not really. At some point, I think you have to come to the compromise of best price for widest availability. Isn't gaining a great amount of exposure and new fans via Google books a great thing for forthcoming releases?

On the other hand, I know nothing about this stuff, really, and I've had a hard time finding anything that isn't hopelessly biased. Can anyone without a chip on their shoulder break it down for the ignorant?