The Case for Regulating Google and the Proposed Book Rights Registry O n October 28, 2008, after several years of legal wrangling, Google, the Association of American Publishers, and the Authors Guild reached a settlement agreement concerning Google’s scanning of copyrighted works. The scanning of these works has been performed in cooperation with research libraries throughout the United States. The settlement agreement requires court approval by the presiding judge in the US District Court in New York because the case was brought there as a class action suit on behalf of selected copyright owners. In large part, the settlement focuses on in-copyright books that are not commercially available. Public-domain works fall outside of the settlement and owners of commercially available, in-copyright books created prior to January 5, 2009, may opt-out of the settlement or opt-in to other terms with Google. As a part of the settlement agreement, Google will fund the establishment of the Book Rights Registry. The registry, jointly run by authors and publishers, will collect and distribute royalties including an up-front payment by Google of $45 million. Users will have several new opportunities to access scanned books, both free and fee-based, via public and university libraries and through institutional subscriptions for academic, corporate, and government libraries and organizations. Although this is a private settlement, the result has very real implications for public policy and the way libraries of all types will operate. Many librarians have raised questions about the settlement’s impact because of the complexity of the agreement, its potential long-term impact on libraries (thus user interests), and the enormity of the book collection involved. Members of the library community discussed the implications of the settlement in a meeting hosted on February 9, 2009, in Washington DC by ARL, the American Library Association (ALA) Washington Office, and the Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL). The meeting led to identification of the key concerns of the library community with the proposed settlement and a RLI 264 3 JUNE 2009 RESEARCH LIBRARY ISSUES: A BIMONTHLY REPORT FROM ARL, CNI, AND SPARC
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