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The Google Book Settlement - Theft or Gift?

Updated on May 31, 2013


As an author who will publish a textbook later this year, I was incensed when I realised that Google intend to take my book and to sell copies without my permission. I had written in my chapter on intellectual property that responses to breaches of intellectual property were frequently emotional – when I realised Google were going to steal my book I got really cross!



Having read the settlement reached and the current arrangements I am still a bit cross. If someone accosts you in an alley, grabs your coat, and stuffs bank notes into the pocket,  you will feel an emotional violation. As you count the bank notes, your feelings of emotional violation persist. If there are enough bank notes, most people will loiter by the alley in hopes it happens again.


The first bit of anger is that Google are going to sell copies of my book without asking me. That is an enormous breach of my copyright. The copying onto their database is a breach of copyright - even before they show it to anyone else.

There is a facility where I can register with Google that they are not to copy my book. I do not have to register with the local hoodlums that they are not to rob me – why do I have to register with Google? On the other hand, at least they are providing a facility whereby I can opt out.

On the positive side, what are Google giving me? If someone taps in “carton sizes”, they will get about three sentences of my chapter on carton sizes. I can opt to allow a longer extract if I wish. There will be a facility for the reader to download the entire book or to order the hardback. I can set my own price, or I can in default have the price set by Google’s algorithm, which is intended to maximise my profit. I may for my own commercial reasons need to maintain a minimum price for the book.

Google say that I will sell more books, and some publishers have quotes on the Google website confirming that their sales have increased significantly.

As a self –publisher I have the problem of obtaining exposure for my book. The Google arrangement reduces that problem significantly. It is a huge marketing help.

There is also a facility for university libraries to join in so their students can access my book – and any competing books. The subscriptions the libraries pay are divided out among the authors.

How much “cut” do Google take? Apparently none, but of course bookshops will advertise on the pages and we all know that is worth money. On the other hand, that is not money coming from me.

There is an argument that this deal gives Google a monopoly on knowledge. Google have been in hot water before over some of their activities, and the American justice system seems to be able to keep them in check. The American Justice Department is watching Google, and hopefully will intervene if Google abuses the monopoly.

As an author I can opt out. Or I can opt in and thank Google for the free marketing help. Decisions! Decisions!

If someone offered me this facility for free I would fall on their neck and thank them. I think "thank you" is appropriate. I still feel a bit aggreived, but if money does come in I expect I will come round.

I do not believe in Santa. I am a bit dubious about any company who give me something for free.


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    • Charles James profile image

      Charles James 6 years ago from Yorkshire, UK

      Thank you daskittlez69

      Just as update I have now published my book, available from for only £46.00 including p&p.

    • daskittlez69 profile image

      daskittlez69 6 years ago from midwest

      This was news to me. Thanks for the hub and here is a up.

    • Charles James profile image

      Charles James 7 years ago from Yorkshire, UK

      John F. Kennedy said

      "And so, my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country."

      In a socialist society values are different. I operate in a capitalist society but try to stick to my socialist values. You disagree with my socialist values. Good luck to you!

    • weholdthesetruths profile image

      weholdthesetruths 7 years ago from Western Flyover Country

      Sigh. There are no benefits, they are imaginary. And you're so passive, I am simply unable to comprehend the mindset that would tolerate it. The term "sheep" is way too wrong, since even sheep have an instinct for self preservation. I am just blown away. No self respecting man would EVER accept such insanity. EVER. Grow a pair, man. Stand up and tell the leeches and looters.. HELL NO!!! You've robbed me blind too long!

    • Charles James profile image

      Charles James 7 years ago from Yorkshire, UK

      The benefits of living in a true socialist society are considerable. I would be quite relaxed about what you think of as confiscation because the other benefits more than make up for it.

      A socialist government might confiscate my book. They are more likely to give me a Stakhanovite Star or an Order of Keir Hardie and make the publication a state publication of which I would continue to be an editor.

      The historical record shows that Left governments seem to have respect for authors and let them keep their earnings -subject to tax of course.

      The Left dictatorships did sometimes shoot authors, but so do right wing dictatorships. That is more about the nature of dictatorships.

      Could I mention that in the USA copyright existed for American authors but non-American authors had no benefit from US sales until the 1970s. In contrast the USSR did pay royalties to foreign authors - albeit in roubles they could only spend in Russia.

    • weholdthesetruths profile image

      weholdthesetruths 7 years ago from Western Flyover Country

      Since socialists claim the moral right to confiscate what you have for "the good of others" why would you trust them AT ALL?

    • Charles James profile image

      Charles James 7 years ago from Yorkshire, UK

      That is right.

      I do not trust capitalist companies, but Google is the company doing this and I can opt out or co-operate.

    • weholdthesetruths profile image

      weholdthesetruths 7 years ago from Western Flyover Country

      YOu said: "I do not believe in Santa. I am a bit dubious about any company who give me something for free."

      And a hearty second on that notion. Perhaps our response to Google's actions, is that it takes them without our consent, knowledge, or even input. Google just does what Google does, and we all have every right to hold onto our property, intellectual and real, and that appears to be Google taking in such a way you have no real control, current, historical, or future. You have no gaurantee that Google will, in the future, honor the law and copyrights... Google is just an organization, with hardly anyone who seems to be able to called to account for the actions of the many anonymous.

      Does that explain your reaction? It's certainly my observation...

    • KFlippin profile image

      KFlippin 7 years ago from Amazon

      Google has its fingers in much of America now, supporting lots of actions that will be good for Google, not so good for Americans, some say Gmail is a mistake to use given their corporate bent.

      While I feel your pain and irritation and angst about what Google is doing with your book, I also have to say that they have done an awesome service to so many by making available very very old books on that are in the 'public domain', out of copyright, and without Google, we could never read the ancient words of Americans, Europeans, and so many more whose voices are beautifully untouched by the politics and direction of today.

      It seems there is bad and good in everything today.

    • Charles James profile image

      Charles James 7 years ago from Yorkshire, UK

      Thank you James and BDazzler.

      When Google copy my book into the Google server, that is an unauthorised copying and so is a breach of copyright. I accept their argument that having done that unauthorised copying, what they later show to searchers does fall within legitimate copyright.

      I am not a "pure" author. I write in the hope of making income from my writing. Google are likely to increase my income significantly, but they intend to do it without asking my permission.

      I have mixed feelings - as the article shows.

    • BDazzler profile image

      BDazzler 7 years ago from Gulf Coast, USA

      Ironically, some of the best plagiarism detection tools have come from Google's duplicate content research.

    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 7 years ago from Chicago

      This is quite useful information. I had not heard anything about this until today. Thank you for publishing this article on HubPages.