Google paid $125 million to settle copyright charges over its scanning of 7 million books. Today authors were told their cut: $60 to $300 per title. Woo?
That figure covers copyright claims for past alleged infringement by Google — the search engine had to scan the books to add them to its special book search index — but not revenues authors can hypothetically earn if they opt into special deals with Google. Under the special arrangement, authors would get a cut of revenue from advertising sold next to Google "previews" of their books, and a cut of sales of special editions (e.g. online, library printing, etc.).
Authors have the right to opt out of these moneymaking schemes, and they would be wise to do so: Google Books overlord Ramsey Allington is said to be an unqualified train wreck of a manager, and Google failed at a similar sales effort for online video.
The Authors Guild didn't bother with such details in an email (see below) to members, nor did it explain how a purported $125 million settlement only includes $45 million in author and publisher payments; it offered instead a rosy summation of the lengthy settlement agreement.
If authors had any doubts about the weak and declining economics of their profession, their guild's crowing about such a paltry payout should put them to rest.