Regarding the July 22 article Google Books leaves Japan in legal limbo“: I’m glad that Japanese authors and publishers are benefiting from the delay in the Google settlement. I was one of seven authors and their representatives who challenged the May 5 deadline. Google wanted to grant only a one-month delay and then, under pressure from us, a two-month delay. We convinced the court to grant a four-month delay.
I get the impression that many Japanese writers and publishers feel that they have no choice but to opt into the settlement before the new, Sept. 4 deadline. I suspect that advice comes from Google, and I’d strongly urge them to opt out instead. The payments for opting in are small compared with the burdens of being part of the settlement. Among other things, you lose the right to sue — or threaten to sue — Google.
If you register with the Book Rights Registry and opt out, Google cannot use your books and you benefit from having your rights and contact information easily available. Don’t let the Sept. 4 deadline pass without opting either in or out. Do nothing and you automatically opt in with Google having the right to display your book in the United States without your consent.
Most important, Japanese authors and publishers can do what their colleagues in Germany have done: Pressure their government to take action. Both Japan (1899) and the U.S. (1989) have signed the Berne Convention and are bound by its rules. An excellent case can be made that the Google settlement violates at least two major provisions of that convention.
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