Canadian Authors Mount Anti-Google Campaign

Canadian authors are mad as hell about the Google Book Settlement and aren't going to take it anymore.

January 6, 2010  -- Canadian writers are mad as hell about the Google Book Settlement and aren't going to take it anymore. As the enormity of the Google Book Settlement hits home and the clock ticks towards the final deadline for opting out, Canadian writers are getting angry en masse about the blatant infringement of their rights that this Settlement represents and the failure of their government to take any action to defend them.  A strongly worded protest letter has already attracted more than 200 signatures from authors across the country. They include: Wayson Choy, Heather Robertson, Ann Ireland, Alan Twigg, Susan Crean, Keith Maillard, Silver Donald Cameron, Julie Lawson, Ron Smith, Graeme Gibson, Anne Cameron, Marilyn Bowering, etc.
Katherine Gordon, former contracts lawyer and best-selling B.C. non-fiction author says it’s not too late for the government to act. “But they need to step up to the plate now and protect Canadian writers,” says Gordon.  “It’s more than time for the federal government to recognize that a foreign corporation has blatantly appropriated copyrighted work from Canadians, and intervene to stop it.”
After loud complaints from writers, publishers, and governments around the world, last year’s version of the settlement was revised.  But Canadian writers think the revised version is still a mess.  They agree with three prominent U.S. writers’ organizations, which oppose the settlement unequivocally: The National Writers Union, the American Society of Journalists and Authors, and the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.
A new court date has been set to approve or reject the settlement, and the petition demands that the court reject it in its entirety.  The petition points out that New Zealand, South Africa, Ireland, and India – all countries with English-language presses similar to Canada’s – are now exempted from the settlement because they opposed it strenuously, as is all of continental Europe.That is what the petition sets out to achieve for Canada.
Time is running out.  The deadline for authors to opt out of the settlement is January 28, which is also the date for submissions to the court. Canadian authors can add their name to the petition by emailing: <[email protected]>
It is intended that the petition and the list of names be submitted to the court in the form of a brief.
For the petition see next page. For an updated list of names visit: <>
Media Contacts
In Ontario
Sarah Sheard (416) 778-1224
David Bolt    (416) 778-7227
In B.C.
Katherine Gordon (250) 247-7285
Kim Goldberg (250) 741-8577
The following Canadian authors and copyright holders wish to protest the Google Book Settlement.  Even in its revised form, it is an assault on international copyright law and has distorted class action law for the benefit of a predatory corporation.

New Zealand, Ireland, South Africa and India – all countries with English-language presses similar to Canada’s — have been exempted from the settlement because they protested vigorously against it..  We wish to protest just as loudly.  The Governments of France and Germany protested that illegal digitization of books amounted to theft of a cultural heritage.  We agree, and believe that Canada’s heritage of Cultural nationalism should be applied to the Google settlement.  All of continental Europe is now exempt, and so should Canada be.

We believe that Canadian Copyrights should be subject to Canadian courts, as well as to the Berne Convention.  We believe that Canadians should not lose control over their works because they fail to sign up in a registry in another country; and, further, that the opt-out (rather than the time-honoured opt-in) clause serves to co-opt many copyright holders who do not have the the time or inclination to study this complicated settlement.   Also, the deadline for opting out insults common sense and benefits only Google.

The director of the US Copyright Office has said “no factors have been demonstrated that would justify creating a system akin to a compulsory license for Google – and only Google – to digitize books for an indefinite period of time.”  She has called it “an end-run around copyright law”.  We agree.

The US Department of Justice sees no reason why Google should not negotiate with authors and publishers individually, just like anyone else who wants to purchase copyright licences.  We agree.

The Google Settlement was negotiated by the Authors Guild of the U.S.  But other U.S. groups — the National Writers Union, the American Society of  Journalists and Authors, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers — are all unequivocally opposed to it.  We do not accept that the Authors Guild speaks for us and join the above organizations in demanding that the settlement be rejected.

If  the settlement is not rejected, we see no reason to trust in the future.  The Google Corporation has behaved in an illegal and predatory fashion in the past and will likely go on behaving in this way.

We join with the writers’ and publishers’ groups, as well as with the foreign law courts and governments, who reject the settlement in its entirety.

(signed by more than 200 Canadian authors)

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