The Google Book Search Settlement
Google Book Search is becoming more and more common. It’s a good place to go to get a feel for a particular book, or to get bibliographic information if you don’t happen to have the book in front of you. It has, though, been no stranger to controversy. The question of the intellectual property rights for so many books, most still in copyright, is a big one. Google makes a point not to include the whole of books in copyright, but the fact that it owns huge digital databases of copyrighted works at all has caused many authors and publishers to cock an eyebrow. More troubling is the idea of “orphan works,” i.e. publications for which is it extremely difficult to track down the rights holder. It is not easy to make these books available without potentially stepping on toes. The Author’s Guild has taken Google to the courts to deal with the process, and at the moment they are looking at a very interesting settlement. The settlement is currently on hold to give authors the chance to opt out of it, and then it will go to court to be examined for fairness in early October. Libraries are particularly interested in the outcome, of course, not only on the copyright front, but also because of privacy issues. For an interesting look at the settlement and the effect it might have on authors, check out this column by Pamela Samuelson (the comments also make for interesting reading, and offer other perspectives), or this paper by James Grimmermann. Or you might just want to head over to Google look at the settlement itself-or maybe the Google FAQs on the subject. The Author’s Guild also has a page devoted to settlement resources.