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Google Reaches Book Search Settlement

Google has announced a settlement plan for the suits filed by the Association of American Publishers and the Authors’ Guild. From the Google Book Search site:

Today we’re delighted to announce that we’ve settled that lawsuit and will be working closely with these industry partners to bring even more of the world’s books online.Together we’ll accomplish far more than any of us could have individually, to the enduring benefit of authors, publishers, researchers and readers alike.

It will take some time for this agreement to be approved and finalized by the Court …

Publishers’ Weekly says Google will pay $125 million and institute a new licensing system as part of the settlement. Section 2.1 of the settlement agreement (pdf) details the settlement payments and licensing structure.

Additional information is available on the primary Book Search site and a separate settlement site.

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  • Jim Carlile

    It could be a win-win for people, but Google has a few issues to resolve first.

    A quick glance at their scanning agreement with the UC Libraries shows that this ‘out-of-print for a fee’ scheme was the basis for the whole Google Books idea in the first place. The older public domain scans were just the part that they had to do, to get ahold of the profitable newer stuff. It was never about “doing good” or spreading “knowledge.”

    But there’s a dilemma. The scanning agreements with these libraries explicitly require that they release all of the public domain books for free. But American copyright is confusing– even many books published before 1964 are not protected, because their copyrights were not renewed properly when they expired after 28 years. This public domain window involves potentially millions of books published between the clearly exempt year of 1922 all the way to 1964.

    This means that Google is going to have to research the copyright status of every book published between those dates. Otherwise, unwitting patrons could be in a position of paying for scans and downloads that they are supposed to get– legally– for free.

    Is Google up to the task, or are more lawsuits going to be necessary before they willingly release all of the PD works they have on file?

  • bowerbird

    jim-

    i think you have a few things wrong in this particular analysis.

    google always knew they’d have to assess the status of orphans.
    so that’s not an issue.

    > The older public domain scans were just the part that
    > they had to do, to get ahold of the profitable newer stuff.
    > It was never about “doing good” or spreading “knowledge.”

    i think you’re mistaken; i still say google’s intentions were good.

    i think this settlement is _flawed_, but i am not willing to believe
    that google was “fooling us” all along. they were put on the spot
    by a lawsuit brought by old-guard business-models, and they
    decided it would be advantageous to them to settle the lawsuit.

    no, i _didn’t_ think they would sell out the public in the process,
    and they sure did. so i am squawking about that. very loudly…

    but there’s no reason to doubt the stated goal: google wants to
    index the world’s knowledge, so they need to index the books.
    heck, that’s where most of the knowledge lies. so it’s obvious.

    the problem is, this lawsuit made them look to create a solution
    for the other side, as compensation, so they provided a means
    to create an income-stream out of their long-discarded content.
    and — in addition — to create a mechanism to put new content
    into the world on a pay-per-view basis, and to collect the cash,
    infrastructure the publisher/author side would otherwise have to
    create for themselves (and which they know they cannot create,
    not with the same success that could be experienced by google).

    google always knew they’d have to assess the status of orphans.
    so that’s not an issue.

    the issue was always the material that is _in-copyright_, and
    furthermore, the copyright-owner is making a loud claim to it.

    both “sides” (as if there are only 2 sides to every story; if you’re
    smart, you know that every story has eight-nine sides) always
    knew that a compulsory licensing scheme was the only way out.

    the only question that makes a difference is: “what’s the price?”

    by failing to mention what it is, only specifying who will pay it,
    this “agreement” does a very bad job of answering the question.

    the public — individuals and public libraries — and institutional
    libraries (especially those at uninvolved colleges or universities)
    bear the financial brunt of this “settlement”, and that is unfair…

    -bowerbird