Monday, November 16, 2009

Google Book Settlement: The Thing That Would Not Die

Thanks to all the people who have worked so hard on this baffling and irritating situation. Some good results have come of your diligence. One big one is that prior to these changes, Google had it that any book not currently available new in the US was considered not in print, so anything in any other country was up for grabs for making available without compensation through the Google Books project. No more, thank heaven. Read on...

Important Amendments to the Google Book Settlement

On November 13, 2009, Google, the Authors Guild, Inc. and the Association of American Publishers filed an Amended Settlement Agreement with the court.

Revised deadlines include:
  • The deadline to remove books has been extended to March 9, 2012.
  • The deadline to make a claim for cash payments has been extended to March 31, 2011.
  • The deadline to opt-out of the Amended Settlement Agreement has not been announced. If you opted-out previously, you do not have to opt-out again. You will however receive notice of the Amended Settlement Agreement directly from Google.
  • If you opted-out, and now would like to “opt back in”, you may do so. The deadline for “opting back in” has not been set.
  • The Fairness Hearing has not been rescheduled yet.
Some substantive changes made to the settlement agreement include:

1. The settlement agreement now only applies to books published in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia (in contrast to applying to books published virtually anywhere in the world). Books published in Canada, the U.K. and Australia do not need to have been registered with the U.S. Copyright Office to be included under the settlement.

2. A book is now designated as being commercially available if it is available for sale new, from sellers anywhere in the world, to purchasers within the United States, Canada, the U.K. and Australia.

3. Children’s book illustrations are no longer included in the settlement, unless the rightsholder of the book is also the illustrator.

4. An “Unclaimed Works Fiduciary” will be appointed to represent the interests of the rightsholders of “unclaimed” books (i.e. unlocatable or orphan works). The royalties collected for the use of such works will not be used by the Book Rights Registry for its operations or distributed to other rightsholders. The funds will be held by the Registry and used to search for rightsholders and may be distributed to literacy-based charities after ten years.

5. The Book Rights Registry will have one publisher and one author on its board of directors from each participating country, including Canada.

6. The deadline for rightsholders to claim works and receive certain royalties has been extended from five years to ten years.

7. Rightsholders have enhanced powers to negotiate certain revenue splits and display use features directly with Google.

8. Future revenue models and uses of books are no longer unlimited. Only Print on Demand, File Download and Consumer Subscription models may be negotiated between Google and the Book Rights Registry.

9. Third party resellers will be able to sell books through the Consumer Purchase model to end users and retain a majority of Google’s share of the royalty.

10. The Book Rights Registry will monitor Google’s use and display of books outside the United States, on request.

Please visit the Google Book Settlement website for more information.

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