Sci-fi author stands against Google’s digital book compromise

Books Sci-Fi & Fantasy Technology
ursula k le guin photo by dan tuffs
Ursula K. Le Guin (Photo: Dan Tuffs)

Google may be making a stand against China for the Communist regime’s insistence on censorship, but the technology giant has problems of its own closer to home.

Science fiction author Ursula K. Le Guin has added her voice to a growing chorus of writers opposed to Google’s controversial plan to digitize millions of books.

Always expanding, Google wants to be the company to give us “an online Library of Alexandria,” as CNET News described it in June 2009.

It’s called Google Book Search, and it would scan, index and display literary works online. The project was announced in 2003.

The company reached a settlement in 2008 with American authors and publishers who sued over the use of their works in the project; a federal judge is now considering the settlement, which gives publishers and writers $125 million in compensation for the use of their works. Many of them feel it’s better to be a part of the digital revolution and thereby hopefully get some measure of control over their works’ use.

Le Guin is having none of it. The Berkeley-born feminist fantasy author resigned from the Author’s Guild over what she called its participation in this “deal with the devil” and is filing a petition with the court, signed by neary 300 authors, asking that the U.S. be exempt from the settlement. Signatories include Jane Yolen and Elizabeth Moon, among many others.

“We cannot have free and open dissemination of information and literature unless the use of written material continues to be controlled by those who write it or own legitimate right in it,” Le Guin writes in the petition. “We urge our government and our courts to allow no corporation to circumvent copyright law or dictate the terms of that control.”

You can read and sign the full petition at Le Guin’s official website, but you only have until Monday, Jan. 25, to do so.

Le Guin is the author of The Lathe of Heaven, The Left Hand of Darkness and the Earthsea series, among many other novels.

Via the U.K.’s Guardian

See also: Bigger cut coming for Amazon Kindle self-publishers

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Jayson Peters
Digital, social and print media pro. Nerdvana's founder, curator and editor.