It’s no secret that Google is scanning entire books and putting them on the Internet. In fact, we reported their first wholesale scanning project – scanning books from five major libraries – more than four years ago. That lead to outcries and debates over whether Google’s scanning of books was copyright infringement, and sure enough, in what seemed like a New York minute, the Authors Guild sued Google over that scanning.
That lawsuit has now reached a settlement agreement, and persons who believe that they may be the rightful holders of the copyright for a book which Google has scanned are encouraged to come forward and register to claim a portion of the settlement.
It is worth noting that of a settlement of $125million, only $45million is being proposed as the cut to the authors, which will result in payouts of $60-$300 per author. Even assuming a generous lawyers’ cut of %50 (and note that as part of the settlement Google has agreed itself to pay at least some of the attorneys fees), one has to wonder exactly how much the Authors Guild will be getting for itself. Indeed, there are sites chattering about that right now, such as Gawkers and The Fiction Circus.
In any event, here is the full notice (and a TIP of the hat to BusinessKnowHow.com for alerting us to the settlement):
In the matter of The Authors Guild, Inc., et al. v. Google Inc., Case No. 05 CV 8136 (S.D.N.Y.)
If You Are a Book Author, Book Publisher or Other Person Who Owns a Copyright in a Book or Other Writing, Your rights may be affected by a class action settlement regarding Google’s scanning and use of Books and other writings.
Persons Outside the United States: This settlement may affect you because it covers U.S. copyright interests in books published outside the United States. If you hold such an interest in a book or other material in a book, this settlement could bind you unless you timely opt out.
Authors and publishers filed a class action lawsuit, claiming Google violated the copyrights of authors, publishers and other copyright holders (“Rightsholders”) by scanning in-copyright Books and Inserts, and displaying excerpts, without permission. Google denies the claims. The parties have agreed to a settlement. This summary provides basic information about the settlement. “Books” and “Inserts” are described below.
What Does the Settlement Provide?
The settlement, if Court-approved, will authorize Google to scan in-copyright Books and Inserts in the United States, and maintain an electronic database of Books. For out-of-print Books and, if permitted by Rightsholders of in-print Books, Google will be able to sell access to individual Books and institutional
subscriptions to the database, place advertisements on any page dedicated to a Book, and make other commercial uses of Books. At any time, Rightsholders can change instructions to Google regarding any of those uses. Through a Book Rights Registry (“Registry”) established by the settlement, Google will pay Rightsholders 63% of all revenues from these uses.
Google also will pay $34.5 million to establish and fund the initial operations of the Registry and for notice and settlement administration costs, and at least $45 million for cash payments
to Rightsholders of Books and Inserts that Google scans prior to the deadline for opting out of the settlement.
Who Is Included?
The settlement class includes all persons worldwide who hold a U.S. copyright interest in any Book or Insert. The meaning of “U.S. copyright interest” is broad. Wherever you are located, please read the full Notice to determine whether you are included in the settlement.
There are two Sub-Classes:
• The “Author Sub-Class” (authors of Books and other writings, and their heirs, successors and assigns), and
• The “Publisher Sub-Class” (publishers of Books and periodicals, and their successors and assigns).
What Material Is Covered?
“Books” include in-copyright written works, such as novels, textbooks, dissertations, and other writings, that were published or distributed in hard copy format on or before January 5, 2009. U.S. works must be registered with the U.S. Copyright Office to be included in the settlement. “Books” do not include
periodicals, personal papers, sheet music, and public domain or government works.
“Inserts” include any text and other material, such as forewords, essays, poems, quotations, letters, song lyrics, children’s Book illustrations, sheet music, charts, and graphs, if independently protected by U.S. copyright, contained in a Book, a government work or a public domain book published on or before January 5, 2009 and, if U.S. works, registered (alone or as part of another work) with the U.S. Copyright Office. Inserts do not include pictorial content (except for children’s Book illustrations), or
any public domain or government works.
The (Full) Notice contains a more detailed description of these terms and other essential information about the settlement.
What Should I do?
Please read the full Notice, which is available at http://www.googlebooksettlement.com. Decide whether you should:
• Remain in the settlement. If you do so, you will be bound by the Court’s rulings, including a release of your claims against Google.
• Object to or comment on the settlement. You must object/ comment in writing by May 5, 2009.
• Opt out of the settlement and keep your right to sue Google individually. You must opt out in writing by May 5, 2009.
• File a claim for a cash payment (if you are eligible to do so). You must file your claim by January 5, 2010.
The Court has appointed Class Counsel to represent the two Sub-Classes. If the settlement is approved, Class Counsel for the Author Sub-Class will request attorneys’ fees and expenses that Google has agreed to pay. You can also hire your own attorney at your own cost.
The Court will determine whether to approve the settlement at a Fairness Hearing on June 11, 2009 at 1:00 p.m.
Still, several months later, Google announced plans to sell books online, in partnership with several publishers.