Google Book Search
Presented to the Academic Senate
13 November 2008
Michael A. Keller
On October 28, 2008 Google, The Authors Guild, and the Association of American Publishers (AAP) announced a settlement agreement regarding Google Book Search. This document summarizes that settlement. You can learn more on the library's website: http://library.stanford.edu/about_sulair/special_projects/GoogleBooks.html. The full text of the 340pp settlement can be found at http://books.google.com/booksrightsholders/agreement-contents.html.
Stanford, the Universities of California, and the University of Michigan worked together to provide input into the settlement by advocating for libraries' interests and ensuring maximum public access both to works in copyright and in the public domain. The universities were not parties to the litigation, and thus are not part of this settlement, although we do support it. We are currently negotiating with Google to alter our existing bilateral agreement to become a Fully Participating Library under the terms of the agreement. Note that this agreement is non-exclusive, and we will continue to engage in our own digitization projects as appropriate.
Mechanics of the Settlement
The settlement focuses on in-copyright but out-of-print materials that have been scanned from library collections. In-print works, those books that are currently being offered for sale by rights-holders, will be sold by Google under their Publisher Partner program; those works are not part of the settlement agreement. Under the settlement, Google will be permitted to provide access to its compiled database of in-copyright but out-of-print works, which holds approximately 7 million volumes including public domain works sent to Google for digitization. Some access will be free, but subscriptions and individual purchases will be available. Google is funding the establishment of a Book Registry by the authors and the publishers to distribute royalties collected through the sale of access through institutional licenses and pay-per-view business models.
Libraries who provided materials to Google will continue to receive scans of the materials, which they can use for preservation, local indexing and searching, disability access services, and research. Participating libraries will provide reading access to the database through Google, not through the locally held digital copies.
Benefits for Libraries
- Google's database of many in-copyright works will be made fully accessible, where only snippets had been available before.
- Public libraries in the US receive one free license per building permitting one reader at a time to read works in the library collection.
- Higher education institutions get one free license permitting one reader at a time to read works in the library collection based on student population.
- Institutional subscriptions to the database and by-the-item purchase for consumers will be available.
- Free preview of 20% of the book, as well as tools to either find the book at a local library or through a consumer purchase, will be available to all users.
- Public domain materials are not part of the settlement and can be shared.
- The agreement allows for accommodated services for persons with print disabilities.
- Print on demand and download options will be available for a fee.
- A digital research corpus containing all the works in the Google Library collection will be established for advanced “non-consumptive” research, i.e., research involving large-scale data analysis where reading the texts is not the focus of the research; this corpus may be used as a test bed for new search engines, new indexing methods, and other new applications. Stanford is a strong candidate to house this corpus and support its use.
- Library partners will be able to use the digital copies they receive back from Google for preservation.
- Registry will be established to distribute royalties received through this and other modes of e-book distribution.
- Allows rights-holders to monetize otherwise inaccessible materials.
- Publishers can remove materials from the database if they desire.
Benefits for Publishers & Authors
Harvard has expressed a concern about Google's ability to name its price for access to the database. While we acknowledge that Google will be in something of a monopolistic position, we believe appropriate safeguards are in place to ensure that access will be priced appropriately, including the requirement that the institutional license be set at prices to ensure widespread adoption by academic institutions. Furthermore, we did not feel it was appropriate for us, as the consumer, to have a role in setting prices for this database.
There was much anticipation that this case could expand or clarify the definition of Fair Use, and some have argued that the settlement of this landmark case is a disservice to that cause. While we agree that diligent and aggressive defense of Fair Use rights is critically important, the clarity and improved access offered by the settlement significantly outweigh the theoretical benefit of pursuing the litigation to the end. Success for Google in the fair use suit would have resolved the question of digitizing in order to create a keyword index, but would not have resulted in the accessibility of the full texts of digitized books for reading. Moreover, the settlement explicitly does not address Fair Use issues, so future litigation will not be impinged.
Michael A. Keller
University Librarian &
Director of Academic Information Resource