Revised Google Book Settlement Addresses Rightsholders Issues

The Google Book Settlement has finally been revised. There are two main changes that have been made: how the settlement pertains to other countries and unclaimed works.

Here’s Google’s official statements on those two issues:

International Scope:

As revised, the settlement will only include books that were either registered with the U.S. Copyright Office or published in the U.K., Australia, or Canada. After
hearing feedback from foreign rightsholders, the plaintiffs decided to narrow the
class to include only these countries, which share a common legal heritage and
similar book industry practices. British, Australian, and Canadian rightsholders are
joining the case as named plaintiffs and will also be represented on the Board of the
Book Rights Registry.

Unclaimed works:

The amended settlement agreement requires the Book Rights Registry to search for rightsholders who have not yet come forward and to hold revenue on their behalf. The settlement now also specifies that a portion of the revenue generated from unclaimed works may, after five years, be used to locate rightsholders, but will no longer be used for the Registry’s general operations or redistributed to other rightsholders. The Registry may ask the court after 10 years to distribute these funds to nonprofits benefiting rightsholders and the reading public, and may provide abandoned funds to the appropriate government authority in compliance with state property laws. The Registry will now also include a Court-approved fiduciary who will represent rightsholders of unclaimed books, act to protect their interests, and license their works to third parties, to the extent permitted by law.

Google also took the opportunity of the revision to emphasize and reassure on other points of concern. They reiterated that the settlement didn’t prevent books from being sold at other retailers such as Amazon or Barnes & Noble. Additionally, they will have agreements with libraries to provide access to Google Books.

Rightsholders also have the ability to limit what Google previews in book search results. You may have noticed this if you’ve ever accessed a book from Google Books. You’re happily reading along and then you get a notice that pages or chapters are missing. This is because the author wants you to buy the book and Google is complying with that reasonable request. If an author wants to make a book available for free or under Creative Commons licenses, they are free to do that as well.

Overall, the agreement is largely intact, with the exception to those two big changes mentioned above.

What to you think of the Google Books settlement revision? Will this be the final version or will they have to go back to the drawing board again? Let us know your thoughts by leaving a comment.

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