SoA under fire for Google submission

<p>The Society of Authors has faced criticism from some members this week for making a submission to the New York court in support of the revised Google Book Settlement. Today (28th January) is the last day to object to the deal with a number of authors among those speaking out against the revised deal. </p><p>But in its submission, SoA general secretary Mark Le Fanu wrote: &quot;Our Management Committee, and most authors who have expressed a view, consider at a time when the creative industries are struggling to find &#39;new models&#39; for the digital age which can satisfy both rights holders and users, the Google Book Settlement offers a reasonable and practical way forward.&quot;</p><p>While concerns had been expressed to the Society of Authors that the Settlement undermined the basics of copyright, &quot;very few&quot; members had raised objections, Le Fanu said. &quot;The great majority seem to take the view that overall it contains potentially significant benefits,&quot; he wrote.</p><p>But novelist and SoA member Nick Harkaway said it was &ldquo;a very surprising position&rdquo; to take. &quot;My impression is the majority of UK authors do not feel they understand the settlement or are not comfortable with it but think they have limited options,&quot; he said. </p><p>&quot;I also think it&#39;s important to look beyond the financial terms of the settlement to the detail - which is not favourable - and the way a massively powerful corporate entity is attempting to create private law beneficial to itself through what is arguably a misuse of the US courts, and thereby appropriate property from UK rightsholders. That does not strike me as something we should be happy about.&quot;</p><p>Another SoA member, who preferred to remain anonymous, said she was &quot;very disappointed&quot; with the submission. &quot;I have worrying reservations and I&rsquo;m stunned the SoA gave its official support without first sending us a ballot or questionnaire to truly ascertain the opinions of its members,&quot; she said. </p><p>Leslie Wilson, also an SoA member, said she was &quot;uneasy&quot; with the stance the authors&#39; body had taken &quot;though I realise that they have thought long and hard about it, and would never deny the good work they usually do on our behalf.&quot; </p><p>Wilson, who has written to the SoA to express her view, added: &quot;&quot;What worries me is that the principle of our ownership of our copyright is getting lost, and the &#39;right&#39; of Google to take our work is to be enshrined in law. I also wish there had been a ballot of members before the Society wrote to the court on our behalf.&quot;</p><p><a href="http://blogs.wsj.com/digits/2010/01/27/amazon-and-others-slam-revised-go... title="http://blogs.wsj.com/digits/2010/01/27/amazon-and-others-slam-revised-go... objecting to the revised deal are Amazon, the Open Book Alliance, UC Berkeley Professor Pam Samuelson submitted an objection on behalf of a group of academic authors, and the French Publishers Association.</a> </p>