In the settlement

I wrote earlier about the Google settlement, which was reached between that company and the Authors Guild (sic) and the American Association of Publishers over Google digitizing books.  That settlement is awaiting approval, with an important fairness hearing scheduled for October 7, 2009. 

It’s a large, complicated document: the settlement itself is 141 pages, and there are a quite a few other attachments and filings that are relevant.

I was surprised at some of the things in the settlement, and I don’t expect that everybody will read it…even on a Kindle.  :) 

So, I thought I’d list some of the points I thought were interesting:

  • Google (not admitting wrong-doing) pays $45 million into a fund to pay authors whose works were digitized before the “opt-out” deadline
  • If they did a whole book, you get at least $60
  • Google also pays $34.5 million to get the Registry running (which represents rightsholders, among other things)
  • Google will pay up to thirty million dollars in attorneys’ fees
  • Rightsholders are allowed to make deals with groups besides Google, even direct competitors
  • Google determines whether or not a book is commercially available (new, not used) (which affects the uses Google can make of it)
  • A rightsholder can dispute Google’s determination: Google then has 30 days to fix it
  • Google can choose not to display (make available in full) books for editorial reasons
  • Google can not alter the text (with certain limitations, like adding some hyperlinks)
  • It allows for book annotations (with specific prohibitions)
  • “Google may not place on, behind or over the contents of a Book or portion thereof (including on Preview Use pages or Snippet
    Display pages), as displayed to a user, any pop-up, pop-under, or any other types of advertisements or content of any kind.”
  • Google can not let people preview the last 5% (minimum fifteen pages) of fiction books (to prevent spoilers, presumably)
  • The Registry is explictly prohibited from using robots to drive up search results ad revenue (which is shared with the Registry)
  • The Registry will be not-for-profit
  • Unclaimed fees, after being used to defray costs, will be donated to non-profits that “will include entities that advance literacy, freedom of expression, and/or education”
  • The settlement mentions “revenue from licensees of the Registry other than Google”
  • Google can accomodate people with print disabilities, which could mean text-to-speech
  • A library can grant “special access” to “to a user who has provided
    written documentation that a Person having the credentials of a Competent Authority has certified that such user has a Print Disability”
  • Google can exclude books for “editorial reasons”, which is described as an issue of “great sensitivity”
  • Specific copy and paste rules are created for certain circumstances, for example “the user will not be able to select, copy and paste more than four (4) pages of the content of a Display Book with a single copy/paste command”
  • Google and the Registry agree on a set of price points
  • Rightsholders are deemed to have authorized the Registry to exercise their rights (Article VI, 6.7)

Those are just my takes on a few things that caught my eye.  You can read the Settlement agreement yourself here: http://www.googlebooksettlement.com/r/view_settlement_agreement.  The Fairness Hearing is scheduled for October 7, 2009.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

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