Google and Authors Guild agree on settlement

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Seems like Google is quickly moving to settle major copyright issues, first in respect to youtube, now with in the case of Google Book Search. On October 28, 2008 the Authors Guild, the Association of American Publishers and Google announced the landmark settlement of Authors Guild v. Google. This is a major deal, both in terms of providing a new economic infra-structure based on the abundance of information, rather than its scarcity, but also, worryingly, in further cementing Google's central position as provider of the world's information. It's clearly another move in centralizing basic services on the Internet.

As Google explains the settlement:

What does the settlement provide?

If approved, the Settlement will authorize Google to continue to scan in-copyright Books and Inserts; to develop an electronic Books database; to sell subscriptions to the Books database to schools, corporations and other institutions; to sell individual Books to consumers; and to place advertisements next to pages of Books. Google will pay Rightsholders, through a Book Rights Registry (“Registry”), 63% of all revenues earned from these uses, and the Registry will distribute those revenues to the Rightsholders of the Books and Inserts who register with the Registry. Distribution will be made pursuant to an Author-Publisher Agreement and a Plan of Allocation, which are part of the Settlement Agreement.

The proposed Settlement also will authorize Google to provide public and higher education libraries with free access to the Books database. Certain libraries that are providing Books to Google for scanning are authorized to make limited "non-display uses" of the Books. Those uses are described in the Notice and the Settlement Agreement.

Rightsholders will have the ability to direct Google not to make various “display uses” of their Books and Inserts. Those display uses are described in the proposed Notice and the Settlement Agreement. Rightsholders of in-print Books will have to notify the Registry if they want Google to make their Books available for any or all of the display uses. Out-of-print Books will automatically be included in all display uses unless the Rightsholder(s) of the Book directs Google not to do so.

A full set of documents relating to this case is provided by the Authors Guild. ArsTechnica article is here. No word yet on how this is going to be handled outside of the US, but one can assume similar deals with European and other publishers.