The Authors Guild, the Association of American Publishers (AAP), and Internet search services provider Google recently announced a settlement agreement on behalf of a broad class of authors and publishers worldwide. The agreement is projected to expand online access to millions of in-copyright books and other written materials in the US from the collections of a number of major US libraries participating in Google Book Search. Reached after two years of negotiations, the pact is expected to resolve a class-action lawsuit brought by book authors and the Authors Guild, as well as a separate lawsuit filed by five large publishers as representatives of the AAP's membership.
The agreement promises to benefit readers and researchers and enhance the ability of authors and publishers to distribute their content in digital form, by significantly expanding online access to works through Google Book Search. It acknowledges the rights and interests of copyright owners, provides an efficient means for them to control how their intellectual property is accessed online and enables them to receive compensation for online access to their works.
If approved by the court, the agreement would provide more access to out-of-print books; additional ways to purchase copyrighted books; institutional subscriptions to millions of books online; free access from US libraries; and compensation to authors and publishers and control over access to their works.
Under the agreement, Google will make payments totaling $125 million. The money will be used to establish the Book Rights Registry, to resolve existing claims by authors and publishers and to cover legal fees. The settlement agreement resolves Authors Guild v. Google, a class-action suit filed on September 20, 2005 by the Authors Guild and certain authors, and a suit filed on October 19, 2005 by five major publisher-members of the AAP: McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.; Pearson Education, Inc. and Penguin Group (USA) Inc., both part of Pearson; John Wiley & Sons, Inc.; and Simon & Schuster, Inc. part of CBS Corporation. These lawsuits challenged Google's plan to digitise, search and show snippets of in-copyright books and to share digital copies with libraries without the explicit permission of the copyright owner.
Holders worldwide of US copyrights can register their works with the Book Rights Registry and receive compensation from institutional subscriptions, book sales, ad revenues and other possible revenue models, as well as a cash payment if their works have already been digitised.
Libraries at the Universities of California, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Stanford have provided input into the settlement and expect to participate in the project, including by making their collections available. Along with a number of other US libraries that currently work with Google, their significant efforts to preserve, maintain and provide access to books are seen to have played a critical role in achieving the agreement. Through their anticipated participation, they expect to further such efforts while making books even more accessible to students, researchers and readers in the US. It is expected that additional libraries in the US will participate in this project in the future.
Google Book Search users in the US will be able to utilise and purchase the products and services offered under the project. Outside the US, the users' experience with Google Book Search will be unchanged, unless the offering of such products and services is authorised by the rightsholder of a book.
Copyrights/Data Integrity/Ethical issues , Regulations, guidelines and other institutional frameworks
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