About the Google Book Settlement
Since 2004, Google has been partnering with libraries throughout the world to digitize and then make available “snippets” of books from library collections, including those still protected under copyright law. In a separate, but complementary project, Google made agreements to work with publishers to obtain digital copies of newly published books to add to the Google Books database. Some perceived outcomes for this project include:
- For Google (and end users) – a full text searchable database of books;
- For the library partners – digital copies of the books they held in their collections;
- For the participating publishers – a mechanism to drive users to newly published books.
From the beginning, Google has maintained that their use (the digitizing of books and the creation of the database) falls under fair use guidelines and is considered transformative. In 2005 the Authors Guild, the Association of American Publishers, and others sued Google arguing that Google’s efforts to scan works held in libraries violated U.S. Copyright statute.
A proposed settlement for the lawsuit was announced on October 28, 2008 and subsequently revised on November 13, 2009. This revised settlement was subsequently denied on March 22, 2011. The status conference on July 19, 2011 continues to grant extensions to all parties. This complex agreement focused primarily on those books that are still in-copyright. The settlement created two categories of in-copyright books: those that are commercially available and those that are not. This settlement excludes:
- books in the public domain
- books that were not registered with the U.S. Copyright Office
- books published after January 5, 2009
- books published outside of the U.S. (unless the books were published in Canada, Australia, or the United Kingdom before January 5, 2009)
Under the agreement, in which authors and publishers agree not to sue, Google will continue to digitize in-copyright books and make the full content searchable to users. This settlement will also create a Book Rights Registry (BRR) that will act as a mechanism to allow copyright owners the ability to register with Google and receive royalty payments for the right to display additional content. The terms of this settlement establish default rules for the two categories of in-copyright books:
- Out-of-print: Google can make the book available for preview, consumer purchase, and institutional subscription.
- In-print: Google cannot make any of the book’s text available. Only bibliographic information will display through the search database.
Copyright owners have the ability to opt-out of the agreement, to remove specific books from the Google database, or to vary any of the default rules with respect to specific books.
Impact on WUSTL Authors: What Should Authors Do if Their Book or Chapter is Digitized by Google?
If you are an author of a book that is in-copyright and registered with the U.S. Copyright Office prior to January 5, 2009, you may want to explore your options regarding books that are digitized by Google.
- Search Google Books to see if any of your books or books with your inserts are in the database.
- Identify the copyrights that you own, either by reviewing the agreements you signed with the publisher or by contacting the publisher.
- If you assigned some or all of the rights to the publisher, contact the publisher and ask how they plan to address the Settlement.
- If you are a rightsholder with books in Google Books, you can remain in the Settlement. This means that you will be bound by the court’s ruling, including a release of claims against Google.
- If you are a rightsholder with books in Google Books, you can opt-out of the Settlement. This means that you retain your right to sue Google individually. You must opt-out in writing by September 4, 2009.
- Those who decide to remain the Settlement can also file an objection. Objections must be filed by September 4, 2009.
- File a claim for cash payment (if you are eligible) by January 5, 2010.
- If you are a rightsholder and the book is out-of-print, you can opt-out of the default mode (making previews and purchases available). By opting-out, only bibliographic information will display for your book; however, users may be more inclined to purchase access to the full text if you let them preview the full text.
- If you are rightsholder and the book is in-print, consider opting-in to make previews and purchases available.The ability to preview your book may drive more users to purchase your book.
Further Reading and News:
- Google Book Search Library Project (Association of Research Libraries)
- Google Books Access Matrix, 2008
- A Guide for the Perplexed Part I: Libraries and the Google Library Project Settlement, Nov. 2008
- A Guide for the Perplexed Part II: The Amended Google-Michigan Agreement, June 2009
[Note: Washington University is not a “Google partner library”]
- The Google Books Settlement: Who Is Filing And What Are They Saying?, Sept. 2009
- A Guide for the Perplexed Part III: The Amended Settlement Agreement, Nov. 2009
- A Guide for the Perplexed Part IV: The Rejection of the Google Books Settlement, March 2011
- Oct. 4, 20132: Publishers And Google Reach Agreement | Google, Publishers Settle Lawsuit over Book Scanning
This article was adapted from the Baylor University Google Book Settlement webpage and used with permission under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.