Sunday, September 13, 2009


The National Writers Union Open Letter
To Al Gore About The Google Book Settlement

September 1, 2009

Honorable Al Gore
2100 West End Avenue
Suite 620
Nashville, TN 37203

Dear Vice President Gore:

As a national leader with a distinguished career in public service, we are seeking your help in protecting the rights and economic well-being of our members on a matter of great public interest.

The proposed settlement between Google, the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers threatens to monopolize the access, distribution and pricing of the world’s largest digital book database. As a senior advisor to Google and given your personal relationship with co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, we respectfully ask you to urge Google’s management to petition the court for a delay in settlement proceedings so that writers have more time to examine this complex agreement. The court deadline for our members to “opt-out” of the program is September 4, and the court could close the entire process down and approve the private settlement on October 7. We believe that both dates should be postponed.

The proposed settlement would give Google monopolistic control over access to many previously published copyrighted books and materials. It would also give Google a license to reproduce a writer’s copyrighted work unless the writer specifically tells Google to remove his or her work from the program. This is grossly unfair. No corporation should be able to profit from the work of our members without first obtaining their permission in writing.

The National Writers Union/United Auto Workers Local 1981 is the nation’s only labor union and advocacy organization for freelance writers in all genres, media and formats. We have joined a growing number of voices who are raising concerns about the settlement as the court deadlines loom. There has been no formal public process for stakeholders to have real input on the myriad details of this settlement. We hope that you will use your leadership position at Google to impress upon management that a settlement as revolutionary and unprecedented as this one deserves more public input and scrutiny.

You have always fought for workers and creators and have been a pioneer in the digital age. Your strong pro-consumer record is unassailable. Today, labor truly needs your help. With Labor Day just around the corner, we hope that you hear our call.

In Solidarity,

Larry Goldbetter
National Writers Union/UAW Local 1981
(212) 254-0279 ext. 814


At its Aug. 25 monthly meeting, the National Writers Union was informed that it has progressed so much in the past few months that the United Auto Workers has decided to begin giving the NWU complete autonomy. The NWU should be out of administratorship by the end of the year.

The NWU leadership also voted for the NWU joining the Open Book Alliance. A press release was written a few days later and is printed below.


NEW YORK -- The National Writers Union announced today that it has joined the Open Book Alliance: a diverse coalition of writers' organizations, librarians, activists, legal scholars and corporations who object to the proposed Google Book Settlement.

"We are happy to join the Open Book Alliance, which shares many of our concerns about the proposed Google Book Settlement," said Larry Goldbetter, president of the National Writers Union/UAW Local 1981. "The proposed settlement is patently unfair to writers and could set a dangerous legal precedent."

Earlier this week, the National Writers Union called on former Vice President Al Gore, in his capacity as a senior advisor to Google, to use his considerable influence to urge Google to seek a delay in the settlement proceedings. The National Writers Union announced its objection to the proposed Google Book Settlement last month.

"Google's book scanning project is one the largest cases of copyright infringement since the United States Constitution was adopted in 1789," Goldbetter said. "The multibillion-dollar corporation scanned more than seven million different books without permission from the copyright owners. In an attempt to placate its victims, Google is throwing some crumbs to writers." Google enjoyed a net income of more than $4.5 billion last year. It is offering writers as little as $60 per infringed book and $15 per infringed article.

"It's a bad deal," Goldbetter said. "Along with the other members of the Open Book Alliance, the National Writers Union wants to promote a fair alternative to the proposed settlement."

The National Writers Union is the nation's only labor union and advocacy organization for freelance writers in all genres, media, and formats. In addition to print media writers, NWU represents electronic writers and editors of blogs, Web sites and e-newsletters. The NWU is affiliated with the United Auto Workers (UAW), which is a member of the AFL-CIO. The NWU's headquarters are at 113 University Place, 6th floor, New York, NY 10003.


On September 1, the National Writers Union called on former Vice President Al Gore to use his considerable influence to urge Google Inc. to seek a delay in the proceedings of the Google Book Settlement.

Gore is a Senior Advisor to Google and is said to be a friend of Google''s co-founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin. In a letter faxed today to Gore, NWU President Larry Goldbetter said the delay is needed because the settlement is
complex and stakeholders need more time to examine the agreement. The court deadline for writers to "opt-out" of the program is Friday, Sept. 4. The court could close the entire process down and approve the settlement on Oct. 7.

To read the NWU''s open letter to Vice President Gore, go to the Google Settlement page.


NEW YORK, NY -- On September 8, the National Writers Union filed legal objections to the proposed settlement of the Google Books copyright infringement lawsuit. In the brief filed today in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, the NWU joins as a "friend of the court" in support of objections also being made by the American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA) and 58 individual authors.

"The proposed settlement is an abuse of the law and unfair to writers," said National Writers Union President Larry Goldbetter. ""It has prompted justified outrage and objections from writers of all types, across the country and around the world.

"The National Writers Union felt compelled to support the opposition to the settlement," Goldbetter said. "We must defend writers'' legal, economic, and moral rights. We can''t let Google or any megacorporation steal our work, republish it and sell ads around it without permission and paying us only a pittance."

The NWU is fighting the proposed settlement in court, with the antitrust division of the Department of Justice, through Congress, and via efforts with coalition partners such as the ASJA and the Open Book Alliance. Last week, the NWU called on former Vice President Al Gore, a Google senior advisor, to urge Google to seek a delay in the settlement proceedings. The NWU announced its objection to the proposed Google Book Settlement last month.

The NWU''s amicus curiae brief was filed by co-counsel Michael J. Guzman, partner with Kellogg, Huber, Hansen, Todd, Evans & Figel, and Lynn Chu, Esq., principal of the literary agency Writers Reps.

"We are grateful that these attorneys volunteered to represent the NWU and the cause of writers' rights," NWU President Goldbetter said. "This is not a partisan or ideological issue. We invite all writers to join us to fight this theft of our rights," he added.