The Google Book Settlement – what does it mean for the rest of us?

As many do, I looked for a good read over the holidays. Since I was in the office most the time, instead of relaxing by the hearth, and since it was REALLY quiet here, I selected the Google Book Settlement.
Now I’m not a lawyer (and I’ve had that confirmed by our folks in legal) and not even a little lawyer-like, but I read the settlement agreement, most of the appendices (I mean, really, at some point do even the lawyers say, I am not going to read that one!?), and the three library-registry agreements and I tried to note the bits that matter to libraries. (That’s boiling down about 320 pages into a 4 1/2 page summary, so I’ve left out a bit of detail.)
The Google Book Settlement is a deal between Google and the APA and the Authors Guild, but it significantly impacts the libraries that have already been Google Library Partners and those that may yet want to join in the Google digitization effort. Those libraries will have their counsel take a much deeper look at all the documentation and decide what’s best for them.
But for those of us watching from the sidelines, I thought it might be helpful to share my distillation [pdf 68 KB].
I also read a lot of the commentary on the settlement (which, by the way, won’t be approved until June 2009, at the earliest) and have included some of the most significant commentary on our Public/Private Mass Digitization Agreements resource list. There are two new sections, Google Book Search Settlement (for the official documentation) and Google Book Search Settlement — Commentary. As always, if you have something to add to the list, use the suggest-an-addition link on that page.
Gee, I really know how to rock the holidays, huh?

Ricky Erway, Senior Program Officer at OCLC Research, worked with staff from the OCLC Research Library Partnership on projects ranging from managing born digital archives to research data curation. Ricky left OCLC in 2015.

3 Comments on “The Google Book Settlement – what does it mean for the rest of us?”

  1. Dan Clancy and Adam Smith have pointed out an error in my summary. As part of the settlement, Google will no longer be able to provide snippets of in-copyright, commercially-available books (unless authorized by the rightsholder).

  2. I was contacted by the “court-approved Notice Provider” for the Google Settlement. They asked that we update our readers with the “court-approved Notice,” which summarizes (for rightsholders) the settlement, important terms, claims process, and key dates. It is available at Rightsholders can claim their works at
    HangingTogether joins the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and a cadre of other august publications in providing this notice.

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