Authors sign anti-Google books petition


American fantasy fiction author Ursula K.


Le Guin is to submit a petition to a US judge signed by 365 other writers opposing the legal settlement that would allow Google to scan and sell millions of books online.

Le Guin’s petition on Tuesday will ask Judge Denny Chin to exempt the United States from the revised legal settlement reached between Google and US authors and publishers over the internet giant’s vast digital book-scanning project.

Chin is scheduled to hold a hearing on the revised agreement on February 18.

Amid objections from France, Germany and others, the revised deal narrowed the definition of books covered under the settlement to those registered with the US Copyright Office by January 5, 2009 or published in Australia, Britain, Canada or the US.

Google and the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers reached the settlement last year to a copyright infringement suit they filed against the Mountain View, California, company in 2005.

Under the settlement, Google agreed to pay $US125 million ($A138.49 million) to resolve outstanding claims and establish an independent Book Rights Registry, which would provide revenue from sales and advertising to authors and publishers who agree to digitise their books.

Exempting the US from the settlement — as demanded by Le Guin and the other signatories to her petition — would effectively torpedo the agreement.

In her petition, which is available on her website,, Le Guin said the settlement was negotiated by the Authors Guild “without consultation with any other group of authors or American authors as a whole”.

“The guild cannot and does not speak for all American writers,” she said.

“Its settlement cannot be seen as reflecting the will or interest of any group but the guild.”

She said the National Writers Union, the American Society of Journalists and Authors, and the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America were among those opposed to the settlement.

“We ask that the United States also be exempted from the settlement,” she said.

Opponents of the settlement between Google and US authors and publishers have until Thursday to lodge objections with Chin’s Southern District of New York court.

The US Justice Department, whose copyright and anti-trust reservations about the original agreement forced the parties to go back to the drawing board, has until February 4 to make its views known.

Last week, the heirs of American author John Steinbeck and folk singer Woody Guthrie dropped their opposition to the settlement, which Google says would make millions of books, including many which are now out of print, available online.

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