Friday, Marianne and I went out to dinner with friends at XIX (pictured above) on the 19th floor of the Bellevue Stratford, possibly Philadelphia's single most famous hotel. A beautiful restaurant in the gracious-and-spacious school of classic luxury, extremely good service, and terrific food. The lobster cappuccino was particularly fine.
Because several of those present were writers, we discussed the Google settlement, and one of those writers allowed as how he was going to opt in. This is a perfectly respectable decision. But knowing this particular writer, I asked, "Are you going to opt in actively or are you just going to do nothing and just let it happen automatically?"
"I'm going to just let it happen," he said.
Bad decision. VERY bad decision.
I tried to explain to him that if he opts in and if any money ever actually comes due to him (I have my doubts about this one, but never mind that), a passive opt-in means he may never actually receive it. Google will get their money, any publishers who've opted in will get theirs, the book registry the Authors Guild sets up will receive their handling fee, and what remains will be put into escrow.
"But aren't they supposed to make a good-faith effort to find me?" he asked.
"Yes," I said, "just as they were supposed to make a good-faith effort to inform every writer in the country about the Google settlement. And they did . . . by sending emails to SFWA and all the other writers' organizations. You can't expect them to look you up and contact you directly. That would render the entire deal unprofitable for them."
My friend, of course, remained unconvinced. But that's just him.
So let me say to any writers reading this blog who have decided to opt-in, PLEASE go to the website and opt in actively. As long as you're giving Google what they want, you might as well get your share of control and (someday, maybe) money.
The deadline for opting out is this Thursday. It's entirely possible you can actively opt in after that. But I can't swear to that. Factual information about the settlement is maddeningly hard to come by.
You can opt in (or out) here.
And in proof that we live in a rich, rich, and sometimes too rich world . . .
Because the dinner reservations had been made months ago, I had to miss Kyle Cassidy's slide show and talk at Moonstone Arts Center (events listed here) that same evening. You can get some slight idea of what a fabulous evening it must have been by reading his blog entry here. Or you can just go his blog here and scroll down and down and down. Kyle's a doer, so he's always got new stuff bubbling away. And he gives great slide shows and talks.
I'm genuinely sorry to have missed out on that one.