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FAIR (Freely Accessible Institute Resources)

Google Book Settlement Information for Faculty

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Google Book Settlement Information For Faculty and Scholars


In 2004, Google announced a plan to partner with major research libraries to scan the books in their collections. Google also has a project to work with publishers to obtain digital copies of newly published books to add to the Google books database. Shortly after the Library Project was announced, the Authors Guild, the Association of American Publishers, and some authors sued Google in a class action suit, arguing that Google's efforts to scan works held in libraries violated their copyrights. Google maintained that their use (scanning and the creation of the database) was both "fair use" and "transformative."

The Settlement

A proposed settlement for this suit was announced on October 28, 2008. It is a complex settlement and focuses on those materials that are both still protected by copyright but are out-of-print. The settlement specifically excludes:

  • Books in the public domain,
  • Books that are both protected by copyright and still in print, and
  • Any periodicals – including professional journals, magazines, and newspapers.

The settlement must be approved by the Court and the The Final Fairness Hearing has been rescheduled from Jun 11, 2009, to Oct 7, 2009. Authors have until September 4, 2009, to Opt-Out of the Settlement.

Some key points about the settlement for authors include:

  • The settlement does not apply to books or inserts published after January 5, 2009.
  • This is a class action suit; members of the class are all persons and entities that, as of January 5, 2009, own a U.S. copyright interest in one or more Books or Inserts that are "implicated by a use" authorized by the Settlement. "Implicated by use" means that the right that you own is one that Google will be exploiting in using the Book. Such uses would include the reproduction or display of any content from a Book. There are 2 sub-classes: an author sub-class and a publisher sub-class.
  • A Book Rights Registry (BRR) (funded by Google and run by the publishers and authors) will be the mechanism used by rightsholders (publishers and authors) to register with Google and the mechanism used to collect and distribute royalty payments to rightsholders for the right to display more of the text of books than is currently displayed.
  • 63% of the revenue generated will be distributed to the appropriate rightsholders; Google will keep 37% of the revenue.
  • For copyrighted books that are out of print.-- by default – Google will show both the "snippet view" and a "preview" (up to 20% of a work, although no more than 5 adjacent pages, with additional limitations for fiction, anthologies of drama, dictionaries. No printing or copy-and-paste is allowed. See the Google Books Access Matrix for more information. The rightsholders can opt out of this option.
  • For copyrighted books that are in print, only bibliographic information will display in Google Books; the rightsholder will have to opt in if they want users to have more access to the book.

Additional Resources

Google Book Settlement Administrator Site

Baylor University Site for Faculty and Scholars

ALA Google Book Settlement Site

ARL Google Book Search Library Project Site

Resources for Authors