Google got into a tiff with the Authors Guild, the Association of American Publishers and some other organizations when it first started scanning books into its database. Google felt it was publishing them online under "fair use." The organizations disagreed.
And filed a class action lawsuit, claiming that Google has violated their copyrights and those of other Rights-holders of books and inserts, by scanning their books, creating an electronic database and displaying short excerpts without the permission of the copyright holders. The Court has preliminarily approved the Settlement.
What is the settlement? In October 2008, Google signed a $125 million settlement with the Author’s Guild to pay authors for out-of-print but copyrighted works it has scanned and made available on the Web through its Google Book Search project.
More than 7 million books have been scanned by Google so far, roughly one million in the public domain, 2.5 million in copyright and in print, and 3.5 million in copyright but out of print.
Google Book Settlement allows authors and other copyright holders of out-of-print books the ability to submit claims to participate in the settlement. What do they get?
Authors, publishers, and other copyright holders will get a one-time payment of $60 per scanned book (or $5 to $15 for partial works). In return, Google will be able to index the books and display snippets in search results, as well as up to 20% of each book in preview mode.
Google will also be able to show ads on these pages and make available for sale digital versions of each book. Authors and copyright holders will receive 63 percent of all advertising and e-commerce revenues associated with their works.
With Google Book Search now available on mobile phones, downloaded e-books could become an interesting source of publicity.
Important point to remember is this settlement is only for the millions of out-of-print books that are making zero revenues for authors and publishers today. Copyright holders have until January 5, 2010 to make a claim.
The settlement is astonishing in its scope. If approved, it will permit Google, on a non-exclusive basis, to continue to digitize books from any source, and to maintain, expand and sell access to its enormous digital library in a number of specified ways