Gail Steinbeck, whose initial opposition led to the first delay of the Google settlement’s fairness hearing, expressed support for the revised Google agreement. In a letter shared with PW, Steinbeck informed her attorneys and collaborators that she and Arlo Guthrie, on his own behalf and on behalf of his father, Woody Guthrie, had now chosen “to opt-in” to the Google Book Search settlement.
“The Steinbeck and Guthrie families will not initiate a separate lawsuit against Google,” Steinbeck noted. “While we continue in our belief that what Google did was an imperious act of copyright infringement, it is time to step off the battlefield and evaluate our losses and our gains. When we look at the new conditions of the revised settlement, it meets our standards of control over the intellectual properties that would otherwise remain at risk were we to stay out of the settlement.”
In April, 2009, Steinbeck led a group of authors in asking the court to extend the opt-out deadline, arguing that the period was insufficient for authors to make an informed choice about such a complex deal. Steinbeck’s announcement comes a week before the new opt-out deadline of January 28.
The e-mail also contained a note of support for the Authors Guild, stung in late December by the public resignation of Ursula Le Guin, who accused the organization of selling authors “down the river.” Le Guin has since started an online petition against the settlement that has garnered close to 300 signatories so far.
“My husband [Thomas Steinbeck] is a member of the Authors Guild and has been for many years. In no way, do we believe that they are the enemy,” Steinbeck wrote. “It would have been next to impossible to independently herd a group of authors together to finance a lawsuit in objection to Google's reprehensible acts.”
While Steinbeck reiterated her displeasure with Google’s scanning, she acknowledged both the practical benefits of the deal and the unwieldy alternative of battling Google in court. “A settlement is called a settlement for a reason, and when one happens, everyone has to give a little; otherwise, we would be battling it out in court for years to come,” she noted, referencing her family’s lengthy litigation over the control of the Steinbeck literary estate. “We have been litigating for the past seven years, and in that time, we have learned to choose our battles.”