There is a huge underground storm brewing in the internet world which could have a tremendous impact on a small, yet important segment of the paintball industry.
That storm is called the Google Book Search Settlement case.
If you read (and despite evidence to the contrary we know that lots of paintball players do read – even if they pretend not to so their friends won’t beat them up) this Class Action lawsuit could affect you.
If you write (paintballers who write not only have to hide, they have to hide really well – and even then their friends still beat them up) you WILL be affected by this class action lawsuit.
You can probably count the number of paintballers who like to read legal documents on one finger, so we’ll keep this summary of the situation brief:
a few years ago, Google began electronically scanning and storing books, magazines, etc., so that the information contained in those books would be searchable by their search engine.
Big Surprise – Google didn’t get permission from the authors of many of those books to make illegal, copyright-infringing copies. What they did was essentially the same thing as walking into a public library, grabbing all the books, saying “Mine!” and taking them all home. Sure there were copies available online – but you’d have to PAY to gain access to them.
Several authors and publishers became aware of this activity and started suing Google over copyright infringement.
So many in fact that a class action lawsuit was eventually put together to better deal with the situation. (Class action – a bunch of folks with similar lawsuits are lumped together: everyone in the group wins or loses together – and everyone in the group is bound by whatever settlement the court reaches.)
One quick fact about class action lawsuits. YOU – the private individual – can be included in a suit EVEN IF YOU ARE UNAWARE OF IT. The court creates a “class” (all paintballers who received eye injuries while wearing the Acme Paintball Groin Protector). The case is heard and a settlement is reached, say, something like ‘all injured parties will receive one-third of a shiny penny from Acme and Acme gets protection from future lawsuits’. You never heard of the lawsuit. That eye injury you got while wearing their groin protector is really starting to cost you. You finally decide to sue, but guess what: So sorry – you didn’t OPT OUT of the settlement agreement, so no can do. You must now go through life with an eye injury and no third of a shiny penny.
In OPTING OUT of a class action lawsuit, you preserve your right to bring your own lawsuit. You also do NOT receive any of the benefits of the settlement. So, for example, if the settlement in the above case is a full groin replacement paid in full by Acme, but you opted out – no groin replacement – maybe not even a third of a shiny penny.
That brings us back to the Google Book Search case. The deadline to opt out of the class action suit is fast approaching – September 4, 2009 – to be exact, and we doubt that very many authors or publishers of paintball materials are even aware of the lawsuit, let alone this deadline.
(How to opt out here)
If you are an author of a paintball book, magazine article, photograph, etc., or a publisher of the same and you do nothing, here’s what can happen to you: Google will be able to –
- Continue to digitize Books and Inserts
- Sell subscriptions to an electronic Books database to institutions;
- Sell online access to individual Books;
- Sell advertising on pages from Books;
- Display portions of Book in a “preview” format to encourage sales of online access to Books;
- Display Snippets from Books; and
- Display bibliographic information from Books.
What do you get? A MAXIMUM of a $60 fee for each book. IF you register to claim it.
(Based on the personal experiences of your editor here at 68Caliber, that is the equivalent of the profit from maybe 8 copies sold. Not only have I already sold more copies than that of every single book about paintball I’ve ever written, I certainly expect to continue to sell – and way more than 8 copies. For me, personally, that deal SUCKS!)
All of the rest of the detail on this situation can be found on the Google Book Settlement Website in the FAQ.
You should go and read through it – even if the only thing you ever wrote was one short article for a paintball magazine that is no longer in print.
To make a long story short a number of organizations representing writers, publishers and book sellers have banded together to object to the class action lawsuit and are doing their best to encourage others – those affected by the suit – to OPT OUT of the settlement. Among those objecting are:
Amazon.com, Microsoft, Internet Archive.org, Yahoo.com, the New York Library Association and the American Society of Journalists and Authors.
(Those groups listed above, along with others, have in fact formed an organization called the Open Book Alliance, which can be found here.)
Your 68Caliber editor (author of four paintball books and hundreds of paintball articles – not to mention other stuff) is OPTING OUT of the settlement agreement.
68Caliber, as a publisher, is also OPTING OUT. (This will slightly protect anyone who has had materials published on 68Caliber.)
68Caliber urges ALL paintball authors and publishers to go to the websites linked to in this editorial, read as much about this situation as they feel is necessary, consult with legal authorities as needed and make their own decision as to whether or not to remain in or opt out of the settlement.
We also strongly encourage the producers and publishers of other media properties (games, DVDs, etc) to consult with their legal counsel to determine how – if at all – this lawsuit may affect them.
UPDATE: Some works that have already been scanned by Google include:
Paintball Sports International Magazine*, Paintball 2Xtremes Magazine*, The Complete Guide to Paintball, Paintball: The Combat Adventure Sport, Paintball 101, Ultimate Paintball Field Guide, Paintball Strategies and Tactics, Paintball Digest, Paintball 102, Paintball The Wizard’s Way, Paintball and Airsoft Battle Tactics, 501 Paintball Tricks, Tips & Tactics, Paintball Bootcamp, Paintball Warrior Tactics, Paintball UK, ASTM Standardization News(!), Paintball Field Operator’s Guide, Paintball Player’s Safety Guide, How To Operate Safe Paintball Field, Paintball Games – The Business, Paintball Magazine*, Australian Paintball Magazine*, Paintball Downunder Magazine*, Bunker’d! Tournament Paintball Complete, Paintball Legend Logbook, What Paintball Gear?*, A Parent’s Guide to Paintball
and many, many more.
*Magazines & “foreign” publications. Foreign publications ARE included in this settlement agreement. Articles in magazines ARE included in this settlement agreement. Author’s of magazine articles may or may not retain the rights to their work, depending upon the rights sold with the article. Your editor at 68Caliber ONLY sells First North American Serial Rights, so that ownership and rights revert to me following the initial publication. Your mileage may vary.