Getting War and Peace Peacefully

28 October 2008

Yesterday Google announced some very exciting news: an agreement reached between them and the other side of the Google Books lawsuit.  (Press release.)  This is very exciting!  I'm not going to get into the press release because IPKat has already done a great post with a copy of the press release and some commentary.  Instead, here is some information about the nitty gritty of the proposed settlement.  (The settlement is currently awaiting approval by the US District Court for the Southern District of New York.)  Later, we'll look at what the settlement could mean for general IP law and IP policy.

For a detalied expert opinion on the settlement, see Lessig's blog.

Benefits of the proposed settlement:

For the rightsholders (i.e. authors and publishers):

  • cash payments for any works that have already been digitized (from $5 to $60 depending on the work)
  • a portion of the proceeds collected by Google from the Google Library Project (63/37 split)
  • usage fees based on how often their particular work is accessed
  • inclusion fees for allowing the book to be included in the subscription database (basically like buying a copy of the book and the rights to reproduce it digitally and display it)  (expected to range between $25 and $200)
  • the creation of a registry that's sort of like a collecting society (a book version of ASCAP/BMI/SESAC) that will maintain a registry of rightsholders and facilitate payments to the proper people
  • the ability to opt out of the Google Library Project in whole or in part, provided they do so by April 5, 2011 [note: there is some concern that this gives the rightsholders too much power and defeats the purpose of copyright.  This author disagrees and feels that this provision allows rightsholders to exercise the rights given to them by the copyright law over digital versions of their works in the same manner they have exercised these rights over print copies.]
  • promotion of other works via hyperlinks to publisher and author webpages
  • a warm fuzzy feeling that their works are being appreciated and they are being compensated

For Google:

  • the right to digitize works and compile the digital library (non-exclusive and subject to some restrictions, which may include rightsholder approval)
  • revenue from the sale of subscriptions of its database, sales of individual books and advertisements (split 37/63 with the rightsholders, see above)
  • a warm fuzzy feeling that it is making the world a better place

For us:

  • a simple and easy way to google the library - we'll be able to search through millions of books the same way we can currently search through millions of webpages, and we will be able to view a certain section of the book surrounding our search terms (basically between 10% and 20% of the book)
  • the ability to access the full text of books in the Google Library Project at local institutions that subscribe to the database, similar to JSTOR or ProQuest
  • the ability to purchase on-line access to copyright protected books
  • free and easy access to public domain books  (I've tried this out already by googling part of the first line of my favorite book, "it is a truth universally acknowledged."  Got the whole book right on my screen; it's pretty nifty!)
  • access to the complete Google Library Project database at our local public libraries
  • the ability to annotate and share annotations of books with others with whom we are collaborating, limit 25 (Google is all about the sharing)
  • better disability access to works held at participating libraries (participating libraries who have digitized their collections with Google are allowed to use their digital copies for a variety of things including providing access to people who cannot use the physical books)
  • faster access to knowledge via hyperlinks relevant to the works found in searches
  • digital backups of works and easy replacement of destroyed or deteriorated hard copies (this may help solve some of the problems with library reproduction rights under the fair use doctrine in regards to digital copies)
  • a warm fuzzy feeling knowing that our laws can work for us and make everybody (pretty much) happy

Now, the question is, since all this only applies to US access, how will it affect my Google Books here in Nigeria?


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