The Google Book Search settlement – a summary

Our colleague, Arnold Arcolio, entertained himself by reading over the actual Google settlement documents. I thought you’d welcome this thoughtful summary.

Share your thoughts on whether his understanding is correct and what implications it might have for us and others.

Quoting from Arnold’s email of this morning to me:
“My understanding of the settlement between Google, AAP, and the Authors Guild, which comes mostly from reading the Google press release , the books rightsholders settlement,
and especially the proposed Notice of Class Action .

It seems to me that the basic operating distinction is not between books which are in copyright and books which are not (which is a matter of fact, though sometimes hard to determine) but rather between books which are in print and books which are not (which Google will determine and publishers or authors can dispute; the Books Rights Registry is the organization that hears and arbitrates these disputes).

A books database, perhaps what Paul Courant refers to in his excellent post – The Google Settlement: From the Universal Library to the Universal Bookstore – as “the product,” will include all out of print books, whether in copyright or not, except those explicitly withdrawn by rights holders. It will include no in print books except those explicitly contributed by rights holders. Google may offer subject-based subsets of it. Google will produce and operate whatever system provides discovery and use. Use means gazing and page printing; institutions which subscribe for access and individuals who purchase access to individual items may also copy, paste, and annotate. A “research corpus” version with just about the same content as the product will support qualified researchers–it isn’t clear that they’d be from outside Google. The research projects that are offered as representative all have to do with making Google Book Search better.

It seems to me that a settlement serves Google better than a victory would, because it doesn’t open the way for similar efforts on whatever scale by others under a clarified definition of fair use. It does sound, however, as if the Book Rights Registry, an agency that collects and distributes payments, should support “similar programs that may be established by other providers.”

Out of print books, including those in copyright, can be previewed online more fully than they are now. This supports increased discovery and selection for out of print books. This generates chances for Google to sell fuller access to individual consumers. Authors and publishers will be compensated for purchases of books in copyright. For others?

Out of print books, including those in copyright, can be “viewed in full”–gazed at–at designated computers in US public and university libraries. Google cannot be charged with making these books any less accessible than they were. In fact, more books are available. However, they are in as illiquid a form as ever. This generates chances to sell fuller access to items or consumers or subscriptions to institutions. “The Public Access service will provide the same access to Books as Google offers in the institutional subscriptions, except that users will not be able to copy/paste or annotate any portions of a Book. At public libraries that are able to charge for printing, and at all libraries at higher educational institutions, users will be able to print from the Public Access terminals for a per-page fee.”

Consumers can purchase “online access” to many in-copyright books.

Institutions (including academic institutions) can subscribe. Will this “subscription for online access” add “copy/paste” and “annotate any portions” functionality.

“Upon Registry approval, Public Access terminals may be made available for a viewing and per-page printing fee at commercial businesses such as copy centers, which will share those fees with Google and the Rightsholders.” And while “users will be able to print from Public Access terminals for a per-page fee” will it provide any other functionality?

Contributing institutions may be permitted to make “non-display uses” of books.

These parts of the notice were particularly interesting to me:

F. Display Uses

Subject to Rightsholders’ exclusion and removal rights discussed above, the Settlement authorizes Google to make the following Display Uses of all out-of-print Books and, upon the express authorization of Rightsholders, in-print Books:

(1) Access Uses: Access uses are viewing and annotating the entire Book, and printing and copying/pasting portions of the Book, subject to certain page number limitations. These are full text uses of Books that Google is or may be authorized to make:

(a) Institutional Subscriptions: Educational, government and corporate institutions will be able to purchase time-limited subscriptions (e.g., by semester or by year) for their students or employees to access the full contents of the institutional subscription database. Google may also offer subscriptions to discipline-based collections. The pricing of the institutional subscription may vary over time, including to reflect increases in the size of the institutional subscription database. For information on how subscriptions will be priced, see Section 4.1 of the Settlement Agreement.

(b) Consumer Purchases: Individual users will be able to purchase the right to access Books online. Rightsholders will have two options for setting the sale price of their Books: they can set the price themselves or they can allow Google to set the price based on a multi-factor formula that is designed to maximize revenues for the sale of the Book (the “Settlement Controlled Price”). For more information on the methodology used to set the “Settlement Controlled Price,” go to [LINK] or contact the Settlement Administrator.

(c) Public Access at Libraries and Elsewhere: Google will provide, on request, “Public Access” licenses for free through a dedicated computer terminal at each public library building and through an agreed number of dedicated computer terminals at non-profit higher educational institutions located in the United States. The Public Access service will provide the same access to Books as Google offers in the institutional subscriptions, except that users will not be able to copy/paste or annotate any portions of a Book. At public libraries that are able to charge for printing, and at all libraries at higher educational institutions, users will be able to print from the Public Access terminals for a per-page fee. Upon Registry approval, Public Access terminals may be made available for a viewing and per-page printing fee at commercial businesses such as copy centers, which will share those fees with Google and the Rightsholders. Revenues from the Public Access service will be based on a per-page charge for printing, with Google collecting the revenues from libraries or copy centers and sending 63% of those revenues to the Registry. Google will provide data tracking the usage of the Public Access service to the Registry, the libraries and other places where the service is available.

(d) Other Potential Commercial Uses: In the future, Google and the Registry may agree to develop other Access Uses, including consumer subscriptions (similar in concept to the institutional subscriptions); print on demand Books; custom publishing (per-page pricing of content for course packets or other forms of custom publishing for the educational and professional markets); PDF downloads (consumers would be able to download a PDF version of a Book); and summaries, abstracts or compilations of Books. Rightsholders will be notified, either directly or through the Registry’s website, of all new commercial uses that Google is authorized to make, and will have an opportunity at any time to exclude their Books from any or all of these uses.

(2) Preview Use: In response to a user’s search, Google may allow the user to view up to 20% of a Book (no more than five adjacent pages) before making a purchase decision, but not to copy/paste, annotate or print any pages from the Book (“Standard Preview”). For Books of fiction, Google will block the last 5% of the Book (or a minimum of the final fifteen pages of the Book). Also, for Books of fiction, Google may display up to 5% or fifteen pages (whichever is less) adjacent to where a user lands on a given page. Rightsholders may also select another preview option, in which the pages available for preview are fixed (up to 10% of the pages of the Book, as chosen by Google and, if a mechanism to do so is developed, chosen by the Rightsholder) (“Fixed Preview”). The pages presented to the user with Fixed Preview do not depend on the user’s search. Rightsholders will have the ability to change the type of Preview available for their Books at any time. Preview uses are designed to serve as a marketing tool to sell the Book for Consumer Purchase or otherwise. Rightsholders are also expected to receive advertising revenues from advertisements placed on Preview Use pages for a Book. See Section 4.3 of the Settlement Agreement for a complete description of the Preview Use options available to Rightsholders.

(3) Snippet Displays: In response to a user’s search, Google may display about three or four lines of text from a Book (a “snippet”), with up to three snippets per user for that Book. Rightsholders are expected to receive advertising revenues from advertisements placed on web pages that display one or more snippets from, and are devoted to, a single Book.

(4) Display of Bibliographic Pages: Google may display to users a Book’s title page, copyright page, table of contents, and index.

And, starting on page 20 of the notice, these sections, too:

G. Non-Display Uses

H. Advertising Uses

I. Uses by Fully Participating Libraries

J. Research Corpus

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About Jim Michalko

Jim coordinates the OCLC Research office in San Mateo, CA, focuses on relationships with research libraries and work that renovates the library value proposition in the current information environment.