Thursday, October 7, 2004

Post from Travel Guidebook Writers

Good morning fellow travel writers:

I'm going to delete all the personal references below, but this is a very important subject for writers - fiction, non-fiction, travel, etc. Everyone who is qualified should go to the excellent website operated by Tom Brosnahan, and join in this discusion.



Re: Google copies "Inside the Book"

Eddie xxx

Oct 07, 2004 07:11 PDT

On 7 Oct 2004 at 13:17, "Tom" wrote:

From what I read, Google allows the author to stipulate how much of a book may be read by one user in a 30-day period, from 20% to 100%. Google has no real way to identify unique users. If you clear your Google cookies, and reconnect to a dial-up connectiion so as to get another IP address, you appear to Google as a new user.

Remember, Rough Guides said that sales of its guides increased after it put the full text online. Guidebooks are different, I know, but it's an interesting fact to bear in mind.) Sales of print books may increase, but what about sales of e-books? If Google and Amazon give away the e-books, you won't sell many e-books.

Remember: the person who sells the book makes a LOT more money per-copy than the person who writes the book. With e-books, that shouldn't be true. Here's what I said in my blog:

Google joins Amazon in e-book plagiarism

A year ago this month, I noted reports that was planning to emulate's copyright-infringing scheme for online distribution of unauthorized bootleg images of the pages of books to which it doesn't own the copyright or electronic rights. In the intervening year, bootleg e-books assembled from page

images obtained from have already started showing up on Kazaa and Internet Relay Chat (IRC). (For more on all of this, see the Writing and Publishing section of this blog.)

Today, launched a beta version of its e-book (page image) Web site. It looks like Google's page image distribution system will be virtually identical to that of Google claims broadly, that, "To further protect your book content, printing and image copying functions are disabled on all Google Print

content pages." But the fine print reveals that they will only _try_ to disable "right-click" cut, copy and paste, and printing (presumably through the same sort of buggy, platform-specific javascript that fails to protect page images on In practice, it is technically impossible for any Web server function to prevent the saving or printing by a Web client of any image that client can display.

The question that remains unanswered is whether in practice will -- as has done -- allow publishers to "authorize" inclusion of books in this e-book giveaway program without the authors' consent, or when the publisher does not own the unencumbered rights to e-book distribution.'s scheme isn't necessarily illegal, if they actually obtain permisison from the holders of the rights to electronic distribution. But in practice, it appears likely that Google will rely on publishers' self-reprersentations as to their ownership of electronic rights, rather than -- as they could and should -- requiring anyone not identified in the work itself as the copyright holder, and who wants the work included in's e-book distribution program, to present evidence of a grant of electronic distribution rights by the copyright holder. will also pay publishers a share of the revenue for ads displayed along with book page images. In the absence of an explicit grant of electronic rights in the print book publication contract, those revenues belong to authors (although

they are likely to be small compared to the potential e-book revenue that authors will lose through the giveaway of page images). It will be interesting to see how publishers account for these ad revenues, and whether they pay authors the full

share (in many cases, 100%) to which they are entitled.

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