Friday, 7 November 2008

More on the Google settlement...

It was good to get some firsthand news of the Google settlement from Pat Schroeder (the first woman elected to Congress from Colorado and now President and CEO of the Association of American Publishers).

Pat explained that the settlement - which only covers material with US rights - will mean that Google will pay $60 per in-copyright book that it has digitized without permission (doesn't sound a lot does it!) to those rightsholders that choose to be party to the agreement and that rightsholders then have two choices:
(1) they can take the sixty bucks and then walk away (their books will then be removed from the Google Book Search service) or (2) they can agree to have some or all of their books included in Book Search and potentially earn revenue from sales of the books, from subscriptions to collections and from advertising appearing around the book...

Pat was at pains to point out that the content of books cannot be messed with (so there won't be any advertising or product placement inside the works...)

One thing I hadn't previously appreciated was that the settlement deal does not include rightsholders of images, photographs, etc and so these will be BLACKED OUT from the digitized content.

Pat also mentioned that rightsholders would be compensated for print copies made from content in Google Book Search and that Google would be helping libraries to collect and distribute payments - in the short-term Google will itself anti-up these fees to rightsholders...

Meanwhile, the Federation of European Publishers has issued a statement on its website outlining some areas of concern it has with the proposed settlement. Basically, these are:
(a) a concern that the Google programme will constitute a de facto monopoly on distribution
(b) that there are already better mechanisms to make available out of print books and orphan works (for example Libreka and the ARROW project)
(c) that Google cannot use a 'fair use' argument for content owned by EU rightsholders and that their activities are still violating the 2001 Copyright Directive and various national copyright laws, and
(d) it is unacceptable that Google continues to use an 'opt-out' arrangement for a programme that rightsholders have never agreed to be part of instead of an 'opt-in' where rightsholders participate if, and only if, they explicitly wish to.

Some of these points are mute since the proposed settlement does only cover the US, but the more general points - and particularly the opt-out arguments - are pertinent.

Pat made it pretty clear that there is still an awful lot of detail to work out so more on this, I am sure, in the future as things develop...

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