The Author’s Guild is calling on Congress to establish a kind of ASCAP for book publishing in order to ensure that authors are getting paid when their books are being scanned by the likes of Google.
Jan Constantine, General Counsel of the Authors Guild, testified before the House Judiciary Committee this week where she argued that Congress should help establish “a collective licensing organization to deal with both mass digitization and “orphan” books.” The idea, she argued, “would pave the way for a true national digital library.” Constantine said that this organization would ensure that authors get paid when their works are used. Authors would not be required to license their books and licenses would only cover out-of-print books so as not to disrupt commercial markets.
In her testimony, Constantine compared Google’s book scanning project to a 1963 copyright case. Here is more from the Author’s Guild blog:
A Copyright Office hearing on February 20, 1963, is eerily prescient about what was to come. (Irwin Karp, legendary and curmudgeonly counsel for the Authors Guild and Authors League was there.) It’s as if everyone saw Google and its mass digitization of books under the banner of fair use coming. Not only that, they addressed it in legislation – it was an early hearing for what became the 1976 Copyright Act.
You can read Constantine’s entire testimony here.