Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Great Book Bank Robbery?

Today is a sad day for copyright and publishing as we know it. Google has settled their long standing case against the publishers and authors and have been given a green light in many areas. The most alarming is the out of print area where we would suggest coupled with the Orphan Act the gates are now open. Here are some snippets direct from Google and we would ask you think out the implications.

We have taken abstracts from the Google pages (in italics) the full write up can be found at Google Book Search.

Out of print books
Until now, we've only been able to show a few snippets of text for most of the in-copyright books we've scanned through our Library Project. Since the vast majority of these books are out of print, to actually read them you'd have to hunt them down at a library or a used bookstore. This agreement will allow us to make many of these out-of-print books available for preview, reading and purchase in the U.S.. Helping to ensure the ongoing accessibility of out-of-print books is one of the primary reasons we began this project in the first place, and we couldn't be happier that we and our author, library and publishing partners will now be able to protect mankind's cultural history in this manner.

Accessing books
This agreement will create new options for reading entire books (which is, after all, what books are there for).

Online access
Once this agreement has been approved, you'll be able to purchase full online access to millions of books. This means you can read an entire book from any Internet-connected computer, simply by logging in to your Book Search account, and it will remain on your electronic bookshelf, so you can come back and access it whenever you want in the future.
Library and university access
We'll also be offering libraries, universities and other organizations the ability to purchase institutional subscriptions, which will give users access to the complete text of millions of titles while compensating authors and publishers for the service. Students and researchers will have access to an electronic library that combines the collections from many of the top universities across the country. Public and university libraries in the U.S. will also be able to offer terminals where readers can access

Buying or borrowing actual books
Finally, if the book you want is available in a bookstore or nearby library, we'll continue to point you to those resources, as we've always done.

International users
Because this agreement resolves a United States lawsuit, it directly affects only those users who access Book Search in the U.S.; anywhere else, the Book Search experience won't change. Going forward, we hope to work with international industry groups and individual rightsholders to expand the benefits of this agreement to users around the world.

Three types of books
This agreement helps define how our users may access different categories of books on Google Book Search.
In-copyright and in-print books
In-print books are books that publishers are still actively selling, the ones you see at most bookstores. This agreement expands the online marketplace for in-print books by letting authors and publishers turn on the "preview" and "purchase" models that make their titles more easily available through Book Search.
In-copyright but out-of-print books
Out-of-print books aren’t actively being published or sold, so the only way to procure one is to track it down in a library or used bookstore. When this agreement is approved, every out-of-print book that we digitize will become available online for preview and purchase, unless its author or publisher chooses to "turn off" that title. We believe it will be a tremendous boon to the publishing industry to enable authors and publishers to earn money from volumes they might have thought were gone forever from the marketplace.
Out-of-copyright books
This agreement doesn't affect how we display out-of-copyright books; we will continue to allow Book Search users to read, download and print these titles, just as we do today.

The Book Rights Registry
The agreement will also create an independent, not-for-profit Book Rights Registry to represent authors, publishers and other rightsholders. In essence, the Registry will help locate rightsholders and ensure that they receive the money their works earn under this agreement. You can visit the settlement administration site, the Authors Guild or the AAP to learn more about this important initiative

Again we have long argued for a rights clearing house but not one that is tied to an act such as this. Some may say that the industry has opted for the easy route and one that means that they can effectively abdicate from the job it should have done long ago.

So out of print but in copyright books become fair game and the question is who owns what, what happens to rights reversals, how do royalties get paid and to whom and who is the seller?

So is Google a bookshop, a search engine, an advertising agent, a library resource or as some have said an omnivore?

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