Rare Book Monthly

Articles - November - 2008 Issue

Major Settlement Reached on Google Book Copyright Suit

Authorsguild

The Authors Guild reached a groundbreaking settlement with Google.


By Michael Stillman

A groundbreaking settlement was announced October 28 concerning the unauthorized digitization and viewing of copyrighted books by search giant Google. It promises a level of access to the content of out-of-print (and some in-print) books virtually unfathomable just a few years ago. What it means for physical, tangible books remains to be seen. It's hard to even guess.

Four years ago, Google began its massive digitization program. Securing access to some of the greatest university and public libraries, it began scanning copies of millions of old books and making their content accessible online. Many, if not most, were long outside of copyright protection, which resulted in no controversy. However, Google did not stop there. While books published before 1923 are no longer protected by their copyrights, many of those published later are still under protection. Others are not. It depends on whether copyrights were renewed years ago. Rather than attempting the daunting task of determining which books were still protected and which not, and the even more daunting task of locating the authors, or heirs of long dead authors, to ask permission, Google simply scanned the books. It was left to the authors or their heirs to object.

Few authors objected, but the Authors Guild, on their behalf, did. So did five publisher members of the Association of American Publishers. They objected to Google's use of their works without permission or compensation, with the onus being placed on writers or their heirs to detect Google's online violation of their rights and then demand redress. Certainly, their objections were reasonable and fair. An author is entitled to be compensated for his work. However, were the writers to prevail, vast amounts of knowledge, much under copyright but of no financial benefit to the writers as it was long out of print, would effectively be lost. It was a real conundrum of competing worthwhile interests.

The settlement between Google and the Authors Guild and AAP resolves this vexing problem in a way suitable to all parties. However, the greatest winner here is the third party that was never a participant in this suit - the people. All of this information within these copyrighted but out of print books now becomes available to you and I and everyone else, and through the convenience of a Google search. This is a win-win-win proposition.

The settlement provides for Google to make an upfront payment of $125 million to the various parties. $45 million would be used to pay copyright holders for past use. That is estimated to come to around $60 per book, not a huge payment, but about $60 more than these copyright holders would likely have earned on these books without Google. Next, a Book Rights Registry would be formed. This would be similar to the organizations which monitor the use of recorded music to provide royalties to musicians. Google would sell access to its Book Search database to various institutions and private individuals. Copyrighted books would only be partially visible on Google, with full access gained only by payment. The copyright holders would receive royalties for each access. Charges would also be made for printing out copies of copyrighted books, again with royalty payments being made to the holders. A total of 63% of the payments from each use would go to the copyright holders, with Google receiving the remaining 37%. It is important to note that without Google, the copyright holders of out-of-print books have virtually no hope of ever earning any additional revenue. This is all plus business.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <center><b>Arader Galleries<br>April Auction<br>April 4, 2020</b>
    <b>Arader Galleries, Apr. 4:</b> MITCHELL, John (1711-1768). A Map of the British and French Dominions in North America. Copperplate engraving with original hand color. London, 1755. $250,000 to $350,000.
    <b>Arader Galleries, Apr. 4:</b> AUDUBON, John James (1785 - 1851). Brown Pelican (Standing), Plate 251. Aquatint engraving with original hand color. London, 1827-1838. $175,000 to $225,000.
    <b>Arader Galleries, Apr. 4:</b> AUDUBON, John James (1785 - 1851). Fish Hawk or Osprey, Plate 81. Aquatint engraving with original hand color. London: 1827-1838. $100,000 to $150,000.
    <center><b>Arader Galleries<br>April Auction<br>April 4, 2020</b>
    <b>Arader Galleries, Apr. 4:</b> GONZALES DE MENDOZA, Juan (1545 - 1618). <i>The Historie of the great and mightie kingdome of China…</i> London, 1588. $100,000 to $150,000.
    <b>Arader Galleries, Apr. 4:</b> VERBIEST, Ferdinand (1623-1688). [World Map] Kun-Yu Ch'uan-Tu. Engraved twelve sheet map with vertical sections joined to form six sheets. Korea, Seoul, c. 1860. $100,000 to $150,000.
    <b>Arader Galleries, Apr. 4:</b> SANGGI, Chong (1678-1752). Korean Atlas. Manuscript map on mulberry bark paper. C. 1750-1790. $100,000 to $150,000.
    <center><b>Arader Galleries<br>April Auction<br>April 4, 2020</b>
    <b>Arader Galleries, Apr. 4:</b> AUDUBON, John James (1785 - 1851). Ivory-billed Woodpecker, Plate 66. Aquatint engraving with original hand color. London, 1827-1838. $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Arader Galleries, Apr. 4:</b> AKERMAN, Anders (1721-1778). & AKREL, Frederik (1779-1868). Pair of Celestial and Terrestrial Globes. Stockholm, c. 1800. 23 inch diameter, each. $60,000 to $100,000.
    <b>Arader Galleries, Apr. 4:</b> BENNETT, Lieut. William Pyt (d. in action, 1916). AN IMPORTANT AND APPARENTLY UNPUBLISHED SERIES OF GELATIN SILVER PHOTOGRAPHS OF LHASA AND TIBET TAKEN DURING THE CELEBRATED YOUNGHUSBAND MISSION OF 1904. $60,000 to $80,000
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Abraham Lincoln, <i>Emancipation Proclamation by the President of the United States,</i> pamphlet, 1862. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Family papers of the distinguished Ruby-Jackson family, Portland, Maine, 1853-1961. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Family papers of the Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens & the persons who served him, 1866-1907. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Autograph book with inscriptions by orators Moses Roper & Peter Williams, 1821-54. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Archive of letters, postcards, and greeting cards sent by Romare Bearden, 1949-87. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b><br>E. Simms Campbell, <i>A Night-Club Map of Harlem,</i> in inaugural issue of Manhattan, 1933. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Papers of the comedian Nipsey Russell, including a letter from MLK, 1929-2000. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Early German-American anti-slavery broadside, <i>Sclaven-Handel,</i> Philadelphia, 1794. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Edmonia Lewis, prominent sculptor, carte-de-visite by Henry Rocher, c. 1866-71. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b><br><i>The Black Panther: Black Community News Service,</i> 44 issues, San Francisco, 1967-1971. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Ernest Withers, <i>I Am A Man, Sanitation Workers Strike,</i> silver print, 1968. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> <i>March For Freedom Now!,</i> poster for the 1960 Republican Convention. $4,000 to $6,000.

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