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Revised Google Settlement on Digital Books

Google has filed a modified version of their controversial books settlement in federal court last Friday.

From the New York Times:

The settlement, of a 2005 lawsuit over Google's ambitious plan to digitize books from major American libraries, outlined a plan to create a comprehensive database of in-print and out-of-print works. But the original agreement, primarily between Google, the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers, drew much criticism.

The Justice Department and others said Google was potentially violating copyright law, setting itself up to unfairly control access to electronic versions of older books and depriving authors and their heirs of proper compensation.

The revisions to the settlement primarily address the handling of so-called orphan works, the millions of books whose rights holders are unknown or cannot be found. The changes call for the appointment of an independent fiduciary, or trustee, who will be solely responsible for decisions regarding orphan works.


The Library Journal offers some additional analysis:

The one notable response to criticisms from the library community was an agreement that, as Google representatives had already stated, more than one free public access terminal per library building may be authorized.

The revised settlement also incorporates some other concerns raised by the library community and similarly interested parties. The settlement will allow for Creative Commons licensing, which means that rightsholders--notably academics--can ensure their works are available for no cost. And Google won't "provide personally identifiable information about end users to the Registry other than as required by law or valid legal process."

However, library critics were not pleased by the "vague--and, to critics, fatally inadequate--concession on orphan works. There was also no response to library concerns about pricing of the potentially monopolistic institutional database--an issue that Google representatives say can't be addressed in the settlement."