Settlement agreement between Google and plaintiffs the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers

The Authors Guild, the Association of American Publishers (AAP), and Google announced on October 28, 2008 a groundbreaking settlement agreement on behalf of a broad class of authors and publishers that would expand online access to millions of in-copyright books and other written materials in the U.S. from the collections of a number of major U.S. libraries participating in Google Book Search. The agreement, reached after two years of negotiations, would resolve a class-action lawsuit brought by book authors and the Authors Guild, as well as a separate lawsuit filed by five large publishers as representatives of the AAP’s membership. The class action is subject to approval by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

Joint University Press Release

Joint Google, Authors, Publishers Press Release

Below are commonly asked questions about the settlement agreement:

What was the role of the libraries in the settlement?

The libraries were not party to the lawsuit or settlement, which was strictly between Google, publishers, and the Authors Guild. Libraries at the Universities of California, the University of Michigan, and Stanford University, among others, have provided input into the settlement by advocating for libraries’ interests and ensuring maximum public access to works in the public domain. Their significant efforts to preserve, maintain, and provide access to books have made the scope and scale of Google Book Search possible.

What was achieved through the settlement that will directly benefit the public?

  • Users gain broader public access to books through full-text indexing and discovery services online, with pointers to copies held in local libraries.
  • Services will be developed for users with print disabilities, giving much greater, more immediate access to books.
  • Out-of-copyright books (i.e., books in the public domain) will continue to be free to anyone to search, browse, download, print and read.
  • Users will be able to freely preview a limited number of pages of out-of-print (but still protected by copyright) books online. Free, full-text, online access to these books will be available at designated computers in public and university libraries.

What was achieved through the settlement that will support the missions of libraries?

  • Libraries will be able to obtain subscriptions for online access to in-copyright books.
  • A database of in-copyright and out-of-copyright books (known as the research corpus) will be made available to scholars for advanced research.
  • Participating libraries will be able to share all of their digital copies of out-of-copyright books with other research libraries or, indeed, other researchers.

What does this mean for the libraries’ participation in the Google Book Search project going forward?

A number of U.S. libraries that currently work with Google expect to continue to participate by making their collections available for this project pending the successful outcome of negotiations between each library and Google. Through their anticipated participation, the libraries are furthering their efforts to preserve, maintain, and provide access to books. It is expected that additional libraries in the U.S. will participate in this project in the future.

What are the details of the contracts being negotiated between the libraries and Google?

The details of these agreements are still to be determined, but they will include amendments to the original contracts that will reflect the terms of the settlement.

Why does the University of Michigan support this settlement agreement?

On balance, we believe the agreement is consistent with the Library’s mission and serves the public interest by providing unprecedented access to these materials. The agreement offers our Library the opportunity to do the following:

  • Make it possible for our academic community to find and use the full text of millions of books online.
  • Protect our holdings against loss, damage, or deterioration. For example, in the event of a catastrophe such Hurricane Katrina, which destroyed thousands of volumes at New Orleans area libraries, we would have digital surrogates for print materials.
  • We can now more easily create a resource that academic researchers can use to perform large-scale analysis such as data mining or computational linguistics, analyses of a sort not be permitted through a generic web interface such as Google Book Search.

How does this affect libraries’ participation in other digitization efforts?

The agreement is non-exclusive, allowing the libraries to digitize works from their collections on their own or to partner with others to do this, regardless of digitization by Google. This other digitization would not be subject to the terms of the agreement with Google. The settlement agreement also does not prohibit libraries from sharing their copies of out-of-copyright books with other research institutions.

What does the settlement mean for the HathiTrust?

The HathiTrust has been designed first and foremost as a collaborative preservation archive for materials in libraries, and would have fulfilled this role, whether or not Google and its plaintiffs had settled their dispute. The agreement, nevertheless, permits the establishment of a library digital copy of works digitized by any or all libraries (not just Michigan) under the terms of the settlement. The HathiTrust will make it possible for libraries to collaborate in this critical work, providing a secure, stable and permanent home for digitized copies of library materials.

Where can I find out more about the HathiTrust?

Please see:

What changes will University of Michigan library patrons experience?

When the settlement is finalized, Michigan’s faculty, students, and staff will have full access (for reading and printing, for example) to a vast body of materials from our research library, and from other libraries as well. Persons affiliated with UM will be able to read these works online, using them in research and teaching.

What does this mean for the Ann Arbor District Library?

As a public library, AADL will be permitted to have, at no cost, a kiosk for public access for each AADL library. Additionally, Google will offer libraries such as AADL a subscription to the collection so that the library can broaden access to its patrons in ways to be determined.

Does the settlement mean that Google owns the University’s library collection?

The University owns its print collection and, now, a digital copy of most of those works. In return for access to our library’s collections, Google will have a copy of these works around which it can build services.

Why did the University enter into the original partnership with Google in 2004?

It is tremendously important that the University of Michigan’s remarkable print collections be digitally archived and widely available for education, research and the needs of future generations. Moreover, once works are digitized, we can make them more accessible to patrons with print disabilities and conduct research that was never before possible. As a leader in digital archival and preservation efforts among research libraries, the U-M Library has been digitizing material for many years, but our partnership with Google will permit us to accomplish this task on a scope and scale that could not have been achieved. As a great public university, the U-M’s core mission is to create, preserve, and disseminate knowledge — on campus and beyond. We believe that today, when people search first for information on the Internet, our great library resources should be available for them to discover. And our archival efforts will ensure that the material stays available for generations to come.

How long will the project take?

Google’s innovative technology will allow them to scan the U-M Library’s collection of nearly 7 million volumes in about six years. The University has been digitizing works for years, but at a substantially slower pace. At the rate we were scanning, it would have taken more than 1,000 years to digitize just our current collections.

What is an example of the University of Michigan’s current digitization initiatives?

Currently, the Library routinely digitizes materials from its Special Collections Library and brittle materials from the general collections. These projects function in ways that are similar to the popular Making of America, a project initiated in 1995, which digitized 9,000 volumes from the University’s collection.

How is the project being funded?

All direct costs are borne by Google, including scanning costs, necessary costs related to conversion and transmission of data, and all costs related to pulling and reshelving materials. The University of Michigan bears no direct costs in its cooperative effort with Google, nor does it receive any royalties or other direct payments from Google.

What information is being scanned?

Through agreement with the University, Google employees are scanning and indexing most of the University’s bound print collection of nearly 7 million volumes. Although special collections, extremely large materials (e.g., folio format) and unbound materials will not be included at this time, we are working with Google to deploy procedures and technology to accommodate these materials as well. Over time the project will encompass books from all different parts of the library on every imaginable subject.

Where can I find more information about the Google Book Search Project?

Please see:

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