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By November 6, 2008No Comments

The rights of copyright owners to authorise use of their works have been reinforced by the proposed settlement of the class action brought against Google three years ago.  Out-of-print books and works no longer commercially available were scanned and made available online in America by Google without permission.  These works were from 213 countries around the world.

The $US125 million settlement was announced at the Annual General Meeting of the International Federation of Reproduction Rights Organisation in Jamaica last week and copyright collectives looking after the interests of publishers and authors around the world are likely to be involved in the notice programme for the settlement.  The Court requires that all members of the class action whose works were illegally copied by Google be given due notice of the settlement so that they can claim compensation for the scanning of their work and opt in or out of the Google Book Search Project in the future.

Some of the settlement funds will be used to establish a Book Rights Registry which will handle all claims. A minimum of $US45 million ($US60 per book) has been allocated for copyright owners whose works have already been digitised by Google. 

Copyright owners of books that have been scanned can claim remuneration for the scanning of their work and can decide whether or not Google may provide online access to their works in the future and to what extent.  Copyright owners don’t have to buy into the settlement of the class action if they don’t wish to.

Google will continue to develop an electronic books database and to sell subscriptions to the database to educational and other institutions.  It will also provide online access to the books to consumers in the USA.  Rightsholders involved will be paid through a Book Rights Registry to be set up to settle claims for scanning to date and to distribute revenues earned from future use.  Where books have been scanned and made available and rightsholders do not wish them to be included in the database, rightsholders can make a claim for past use and ask that the work be withdrawn and not used in the future.  They do not have to be involved in the settlement for past scanning if they want to take their own action.

It is important that rightsholders consider their options and are aware that by including their works in the Google Project, they can receive revenue for the use of books that are no longer available in the marketplace.

New Zealand publishers and authors will be able to log into the settlement website to see whether any of their works were scanned by Google and seek compensation for the unauthorised use.  A list of out of print works scanned will be available in January 2009.

As the copyright collective acting on behalf of publishers and authors in New Zealand, Copyright Licensing Ltd will be participating in the notice programme for the Google Book Search Copyright Settlement to ensure that New Zealand copyright holders are fully informed of the settlement process.

For further information, contact: Kathy Sheat, CEO, Copyright Licensing Ltd, 09 486 6250, 021 480 271,