Google Book War: now peace breaks out

The IPKat thanks his trusty friend Kristof Neefs (Laga, Belgium) for drawing his attention to a press release today from Google, headed "Authors, Publishers, and Google Reach Landmark Settlement: Copyright Accord Would Make Millions More Books Available Online". The press release reads, in relevant part:

"The Authors Guild, the Association of American Publishers (AAP), and Google today announced a groundbreaking settlement agreement on behalf of a broad class of authors and publishers worldwide that would expand online access to millions of in-copyright books and other written materials in the U.S. from the collections of a number of major U.S. libraries participating in Google Book Search. The agreement, reached after two years of negotiations, would resolve a class-action lawsuit brought by book authors and the Authors Guild, as well as a separate lawsuit filed by five large publishers as representatives of the AAP’s membership. The class action [the IPKat wonders, should this read 'agreement'?] is subject to approval by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

The agreement promises to benefit readers and researchers, and enhance the ability of authors and publishers to distribute their content in digital form, by significantly expanding online access to works through Google Book Search, an ambitious effort to make millions of books searchable via the Web. The agreement acknowledges the rights and interests of copyright owners, provides an efficient means for them to control how their intellectual property is accessed online and enables them to receive compensation for online access to their works [The Kat thought this was impossible. If the Guild, the AAP and Google can manage this, perhaps they'd like to tackle global warming, the credit crisis and Madonna's divorce settlement too].

If approved by the court, the agreement would provide:

More Access to Out-of-Print Books – Generating greater exposure for millions of in-copyright works, including hard-to-find out-of-print books, by enabling readers in the U.S. to search these works and preview them online [more access to hyphens too, it appears ...];

Additional Ways to Purchase Copyrighted Books – Building off publishers’ and authors’ current efforts and further expanding the electronic market for copyrighted books in the U.S., by offering users the ability to purchase online access to many in-copyright books [any prizes for predicting the impact of this on Amazon's business?];

Institutional Subscriptions to Millions of Books Online – Offering a means for U.S. colleges, universities and other organizations to obtain subscriptions for online access to collections from some of the world’s most renowned libraries [what about non-US institutions, distance learning institutions etc?];

Free Access From U.S. Libraries – Providing free, full-text, online viewing of millions of out-of-print books at designated computers in U.S. public and university libraries; and

Compensation to Authors and Publishers and Control Over Access to Their Works – Distributing payments earned from online access provided by Google and, prospectively, from similar programs that may be established by other providers [this looks like a sop to those worried about lack competition], or through a newly created independent, not-for-profit Book Rights Registry that will also locate rightsholders, collect and maintain accurate rightsholder information, and provide a way for rightsholders to request inclusion in or exclusion from the project.

Under the agreement, Google will make payments totaling $125 million [until a few short weeks ago, the IPKat used to think this was a lot of money ...]. The money will be used to establish the Book Rights Registry, to resolve existing claims by authors and publishers and to cover legal fees. The settlement agreement resolves Authors Guild v Google, a class-action suit filed on September 20, 2005 by the Authors Guild and certain authors, and a suit filed on October 19, 2005 by five major publisher-members of the Association of American Publishers: ... . These lawsuits challenged Google’s plan to digitize, search and show snippets of in-copyright books and to share digital copies with libraries without the explicit permission of the copyright owner.

Holders worldwide of U.S. copyrights can register their works with the Book Rights Registry and receive compensation from institutional subscriptions, book sales, ad revenues [do the Kats pick up the scent of AdSense?] and other possible revenue models, as well as a cash payment if their works have already been digitized.

Libraries at the Universities of California, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Stanford have provided input into the settlement and expect to participate in the project, including by making their collections available. Along with a number of other U.S. libraries that currently work with Google, their significant efforts to preserve, maintain and provide access to books have played a critical role in achieving this agreement and, through their anticipated participation, they are furthering such efforts while making books even more accessible to students, researchers and readers in the U.S. It is expected that additional libraries in the U.S. will participate in this project in the future.

Google Book Search users in the United States will be able to enjoy and purchase the products and services offered under the project. Outside the United States, the users’ experience with Google Book Search will be unchanged, unless the offering of such products and services is authorized by the rightsholder of a book.


For more information about this agreement, including information about whether you may be a class member, please visit [when time permits, this may be fun]. Class members include authors (the Author Sub-Class) and publishers (the Publisher Sub-Class), and their heirs and successors, of books and other written works protected by U.S. copyright law.

A teleconference for the media will be held today, Tuesday, October 28, 2008, at 10:30 a.m. Eastern. To participate, reporters in the U.S. should dial 877-340-7913, and reporters internationally should dial 719-325-4845. Please tell the operator you would like to join the “Authors, Publishers and Google” call".

The IPKat says, this seems wonderful -- never has so much reading material been made available to so many readers so swiftly and with so little effort on their own part. Merpel says, some words are missing from this press release. They include orphan, Berne, indemnity, liability, infringe, moral right and damages ...

Feline library here
Google Book War: now peace breaks out Google Book War: now peace breaks out Reviewed by Jeremy on Tuesday, October 28, 2008 Rating: 5


  1. All US-focused, all dealing with literary works. Americans not so much about the whole moral rights thing...

  2. Giving authors or publishers control of access seems to be starting down a slippery slope that leads away from the purpose of copyright.

  3. Merpel: Check the settlement notice for those missing words; most of them are included.

    Eric: Could you please explain the slippery slope concern you have? It seems to me that distribution and publication rights, which are given to by the copyright, already do give authors and publishers control of access.


All comments must be moderated by a member of the IPKat team before they appear on the blog. Comments will not be allowed if the contravene the IPKat policy that readers' comments should not be obscene or defamatory; they should not consist of ad hominem attacks on members of the blog team or other comment-posters and they should make a constructive contribution to the discussion of the post on which they purport to comment.

It is also the IPKat policy that comments should not be made completely anonymously, and users should use a consistent name or pseudonym (which should not itself be defamatory or obscene, or that of another real person), either in the "identity" field, or at the beginning of the comment. Current practice is to, however, allow a limited number of comments that contravene this policy, provided that the comment has a high degree of relevance and the comment chain does not become too difficult to follow.

Learn more here:

Powered by Blogger.