EFF weighs in on Google Books Settlement

This just in from the Electronic Frontier Foundation with most of their call shown after the "read more" jump:

We are putting together a group of authors (or their heirs or assigns)
who are concerned about the Google Book Search settlement and its effect
on the privacy and anonymity of readers. In particular, we are looking
for authors who fear that Google's tracking of online book browsing,
reading, and purchase will have a "chilling effect" on their readership.
We are also interested in hearing from authors who themselves might feel
chilled in their own online reading habits if Google is allowed to track
every page or paragraph they read. We plan to file papers with the court
on behalf of those authors that object to any settlement that fails to
provide the same privacy protections for readers in the digital world
that apply to reading physical books from libraries, bookstores, etc.
These include protections from subpoenas, law enforcement
investigations, and other forms of surveillance and profiling.

Note: In order to participate, you must still own rights in some or all
of a "book." For how the settlement defines a "book," see below. (Yes,
we recognize that defining a book to an audience of authors is a bit
surreal, but the court will pay careful attention to this definition, so
we have to pay close attention to how it is worded.)

Deadline:  All authors must have given us affirmative approval to file
on their behalf by Aug. 15th.  Send your approval, plus a list of the
books you own rights to, to: authors@eff.org
.  We'd also appreciate a short note about why
you think anonymity and privacy for your readers is important to the
market for your work or to your own reading habits.


The Settlement Basics:
Google and the Authors Guild have negotiated a settlement of the Google
Book Search class action that will set up an arrangement by which
millions of books will be scanned by Google and made available to the
public under one of three mechanisms (called Preview Use, Consumer Use
and Institutional Subscription).  The settlement has financial
arrangements and outlines how the three mechanisms are to be set up and
what rights readers and authors will have under them. Google and the
Authors Guild will be asking a federal court to approve the settlement
in October, 2009, and any objections to it are due on September 4, 2009.
You can read more about the settlement here:
http://books.google.com/booksrightsholders/

The Problem:

The agreement has no protections in it for reader privacy or anonymity.
None. Neither the Author's Guild nor Google has taken any steps in the
context of this landmark agreement for the future of books, to ensure
that the fundamental right of readers to privacy and anonymity of their
reading habits are preserved. Our goal is to remedy that by asking the
court to disapprove the settlement until it has sufficient protections
for authors and their readers.

Background:
In the analog world, it is possible to keep what you read private
because it is practically difficult to track and because there are legal
and ethical protections in place.  Courts impose high standards on law
enforcement and others seeking access to reading records because the
right to read anonymously is tied to the right to speak anonymously.  In
addition, librarians have a professional ethical responsibility to
protect patron privacy.  However, as traditional print materials have
moved onto the internet, the practical protections of public libraries
have diminished and the legal protections are less clear.  Google’s
current practices show it is capable of compiling “dossiers” that reveal
our identities in intimate detail. These “dossiers” may be shared across
Google products or with partners, civil litigants and law enforcement
without clear standards for review.  While Google may not intend any
nefarious actions, any settlement that is to be approved by the court to
clear the way for Google to create the world's largest repository of
digital books and likely the only access channels to those works in
digital form, must affirmatively contain protections for reader privacy
and anonymity.

Who can join us:
Authors who are concerned about reader privacy.  We can only represent
people who are members of the class, so that means that they must meet
the terms laid out here:
http://books.google.com/booksrightsholders/

The short version is that they must either be the author, heirs or
assigns of a "book," which is defined as  a written or printed work that
meets the following three conditions on or before January 5, 2009:

 * It was published or distributed to the public or made available
  on sheets of paper bound together in hard copy form for public
  access under the authorization of the work's U.S. copyright
  owner; and
 * It was registered with the U.S. Copyright Office, UNLESS the
  work is not a "United States work" under the U.S. Copyright Act,
  in which case such registration is not required; and
 * It is subject to a U.S. copyright interest (either through
  ownership, joint ownership, or an exclusive license) implicated
  by a use authorized, or for which compensation could be payable,
  by the Settlement.

How to join:
Send an email to authors@eff.org giving us:

1)Your name
2) Books you have authored (or for which you are the heir or assign)
3) If you'd like, a short explanation about why reader privacy is
important to you, either as an author or as a reader
4) How best to contact you if we have questions or need to provide you
with updates on the case
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