The National Writers Union Open Letter
To Al Gore About The Google Book Settlement
September 1, 2009
Honorable Al Gore
2100 West End Avenue
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.
National Writers Union/UAW Local 1981
(212) 254-0279 ext. 814