The agreement also resolves lawsuits that were brought against Google in 2005 by a group of authors and publishers, along with the Authors Guild and Association of American Publishers (AAP). While Google, the Authors Guild and the AAP have disagreed on copyright law, we have always agreed about the importance of creating new ways for users to find books and for authors and publishers to get paid for their works.
With this agreement, in-copyright, out-of-print books will now be available for readers in the U.S. to search, preview and buy online — something that was simply unavailable to date. Most of these books are difficult, if not impossible, to find. They are not sold through bookstores or held on most library shelves, yet they make up the vast majority of books in existence. Today, Google only shows snippets of text from the books where we don’t have copyright holder permission. This agreement enables people to preview up to 20% of the book.
What makes this settlement so powerful is that in addition to being able to find and preview books more easily, users will also be able to read them. And when people read them, authors and publishers of in-copyright works will be compensated. If a reader in the U.S. finds an in-copyright book through Google Book Search, he or she will be able to pay to see the entire book online. Also, academic, library, corporate and government organizations will be able to purchase institutional subscriptions to make these books available to their members. For out-of-print books that in most cases do not have a commercial market, this opens a new revenue opportunity that didn’t exist before.
As part of the agreement, Google is also funding the establishment of a Book Rights Registry, managed by authors and publishers, that will work to locate and represent copyright holders. We think the Registry will help address the "orphan" works problem for books in the U.S., making it easier for people who want to use older books. Since the Book Rights Registry will also be responsible for distributing the money Google collects to authors and publishers, there will be a strong incentive for rightsholders to come forward and claim their works.
In addition to expanding the commercial market for these books, Google, the authors and the publishers have worked hard with our library partners at Stanford, the University of Michigan, the University of California and the University of Wisconsin-Madison to ensure this agreement advances libraries’ efforts to preserve, maintain and provide access to books for students, researchers and readers. The agreement gives public and university libraries across the U.S. free, full-text viewing of books at a designated computer in each of their facilities. That means local libraries across the U.S. will be able to offer their patrons access to the incredible collections of our library partners — a huge benefit to the public.
The agreement also authorizes Google and the libraries to create new services that will help people with disabilities such as visual impairment better experience these books. We are grateful to our library partners for investing so much painstaking effort over so many years to maintain their book collections, and we are excited at the prospect of their participation in this landmark project.
You can read the 300+ page settlement agreement here.