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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Google Book Search

Google Book Search is a service by which Internet searchers can view snippets of digital copies of millions of books scanned by Google, both in-print and out-of-print. Of course, there was a class action lawsuit, led by the (American) Authors Guild. There is now a settlement that must be approved by the court. Here is a concise summary of the settlement and a joint FAQ. In suspicious brevity, though: the settlement allows Google to continue providing snippets of scanned out-of-print books, and with an opt-in/opt-out arrangement, allows authors to decide about in-print books. This lawsuit was an American action. Google must tread on slippery ground elsewhere, where precise legal definitions differ country-to-country on copyright matters.

Significantly, Google created a new model for compensation to authors and publishers for copyrighted books. Google customers will be able to buy digital copies of the books while authors and publishers share in the sales and advertising revenue for ads displayed while the customer views the books.

Opinion about this varies, of course. The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) is a non-official but interested party in the settlement. Here is their statement.

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