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The Google Book Settlement - and what it means for learners and researchers in the UK
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The Google Book Settlement - and what it means for learners and researchers in the UK


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A brief summary of the issues associated with the proposed Google Book Settlement, particularly as they pertain to UK learners and researchers. This presentation is based on the summary text prepared …

A brief summary of the issues associated with the proposed Google Book Settlement, particularly as they pertain to UK learners and researchers. This presentation is based on the summary text prepared by Naomi Korn and Rachel Bruce (JISC) available at

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  • 1. The Google Book Settlement
    ...and what it means for learners and researchers in the UK
    29 September 2009
    based on a summary by Naomi Korn and Rachel Bruce
    (for image credits see final slide)
  • 2. Background
    in 2004 Google started mass digitisation of books in the collections of several libraries and protected by US copyright law
    several authors and publishers brought a lawsuit against them claiming infringement of copyright
    Google claimed ‘fair use’ but have subsequently reached agreement with representatives of rights owners and publishers
  • 3. The settlement
    covers US published works – books, inserts in books, government works, public domain books
    ...published on or before 5th January 2009
    the Book Rights Registry (BRR) will be established to distribute revenues, find rights holders, settle rights disputes and, where authorised, exploit third party rights
    works which are still in print will require copyright holders to opt in 
  • 4. Review
    the settlement is currently under review by United States District Court, Southern District of New York
    a ‘status update’ will take place on the 7th October 2009 to “determine how to proceed with the case as expeditiously as possible”
    note: negotiations with US Department of Justice likely to lead to some revisions to settlement outlined here
  • 5. Detail
    the settlement allows Google to offer 4 primary services
    consumer purchases
    institutional subscriptions
    free public access service
    but note... this is a US settlement under US law and therefore only applies in the US
  • 6. Previews
    all US users will be able to search Google’s entire search database for digitised books free, and view up to 20% of text from out-of-print books
    there are special rules for special categories e.g. fiction vs. non-fiction
  • 7. Consumer purchases
    US users may buy perpetual online access to the full text of out-of-print books
    may also buy access to in-print books, provided that the copyright owner has “opted in”
  • 8. Institutional subscriptions
    US users within an institution may view the full text of all the books in the Institutional Subscription Database (ISD)
    this includes all books in the in-copyright but out-of-print category
  • 9. Free public access
    Google may provide a Free Public Access Service to not-for-profit higher education institutions and public libraries on specified conditions
    note: for public libraries, no more than one terminal per library building
    Google will also share its collection of out-of-print works with other books re-sellers who will be able to provide online access
  • 10. Issues - territoriality
    this is a US-only settlement (did I mention that already?)
    UK readers will not be able to access the full-text view of any texts, only the display and snippets views
    UK researchers will therefore be at a disadvantage to their US colleagues in not being able to view full text works nor the complete database of scanned books
  • 11. Issues - control
    the Google digitisation programme may amount to over 30 million books
    Google’s 5-year lead means that other projects will find it difficult to mount competitive digitisation programmes
    a large proportion of the world’s heritage of books in digital format and associated metadata will therefore be under the control of a single US corporate entity
  • 12. Issues - preservation
    there do not appear to be any provisions for long term preservation of the entire database of digitised books in the settlement
    and there are no stipulations for the legal deposit of this database in the instance that Google no longer wishes to preserve it
  • 13. Issues - pricing
    economic terms for the Institutional Subscriptions Database will be based upon the realisation of revenue at market rates, and the realisation of broad access by the public (including higher education institutions)
    it is crucial that broad access is given full consideration in this settlement to ensure that the beneficial societal effects of the project are realised
  • 14. Issues - censorship
    Google may exclude 15 % of scanned out-of-print, in copyrightbooks from the database
    this may amount to the exclusion of 1 million books
    political pressure may be used to exclude particular books
    note: such exclusions must be published together with the reasons for their exclusion
  • 15. Issues - privacy
    some of the services offered imply that Google will collect and retain information of users’ activities
    however, the settlement does not specify how users’ privacy will be protected and in particular how that data may then be used
  • 16. Issues - research
    the collection of scanned books represents a unique corpus for analysis and research
    Google and two institutions may offer this for purposes of “non-consumptive research” (*) by “qualified users”
    the host site decides who is qualified and whether research is non-consumptive – no challenge available
    (*) “non-consumptive” means that the text is not accessed for display or reading
  • 17. Issues - contracts
    the settlement does not stipulate that its terms will not supersede legislated users’ rights, including specific and general exceptions for libraries and users, and any existing or new approaches to making orphan works accessible
  • 18. And finally...
    this is only a brief summarythere are other issues!
    these slides are based on theJISC summary (by Naomi Kornand Rachel Bruce) availableat:
    CC images by:
    Dawn Endico
    Today is a good day
    Steve Rhodes
    Lin Pernille ♥ Photography
    Paul Mayne
    Eric M Martin
    (all on Flickr)