News & Trends: Countdown to the Google Book Search Settlement Review
The preliminary settlement agreement between the Association of American Publishers, the Authors Guild and Google regarding Google’s Book Search project and its alleged copyright violation has been heralded by the parties involved as a victory. Other publishers and industry analysts also have voiced optimism over the settlement’s impact on the industry. But as the date of the final settlement review (the Fairness Hearing) approaches (June 11), many still are investigating the agreement’s details. Others have voiced concern and suggest the settlement demands some significant changes. And time is of the essence. Because this is a class-action suit filed on behalf of authors and publishers, virtually anyone who owns copyright interest in a book is included in this settlement, unless they opt out by the May 5 deadline. That is also the deadline for anyone to submit objections to or comments on the settlement. Those who do not opt out of the settlement will be “bound by the court’s rulings” and will relinquish their rights to sue Google regarding this matter in the future.
The Settlement at a Glance
According to the settlement administration Web site Google has created, the agreement enables Google to “scan and maintain an electronic database of in-copyright books.” Google also can “sell access to individual books and institutional subscriptions to the database, place advertisements on any page dedicated to a book and make other commercial use of books.” Authors and publishers can opt out (request that their books be removed from Google’s database).
“The settlement [also] makes a distinction between out-of-print books and in-print books,” says Tad Crawford, publisher of Allworth Press, who is also an attorney and advocate for artists’ rights. “In-print books are not in the licensing program unless the rights holder does something. Out-of-print books are in the licensing program unless the rights holder does something. That was the key distinction that led to the settlement.”