Posted October 28, 2008 4:27 pm by with 9 comments

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Google, the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers (AAP) have reached an agreement, announced today, that will allow Google Book Search to display the text of in-copyright, out-of-print books. In addition to the fact that these copyrighted works will now be searchable and accessible to all with permission from copyright holders, it’s also nice to see the three organizations getting alone, since last we heard they were suing up a storm.

But the litigiousness is no more, apparently. The latest agreement, according to an official Google Blog post, will offer several benefits (including the obvious):

First, it will give readers digital access to millions of in-copyright books; second, it will create a new market for authors and publishers to sell their works; and third, it will further the efforts of our library partners to preserve and maintain their collections while making books more accessible to students, readers and academic researchers.

So far, Book Search has indexed 7 million books and will retain its publisher Partners Program, which has agreements with 20,000 publishers worldwide. With this latest agreement, they’ll obviously have access to many more. Each work will feature a limited preview, offering viewers up to 20% of the book through Book Search.

What does Google have to do to get all this?

As part of the agreement, Google is also funding the establishment of a Book Rights Registry, managed by authors and publishers, that will work to locate and represent copyright holders. We think the Registry will help address the “orphan” works problem for books in the U.S., making it easier for people who want to use older books. Since the Book Rights Registry will also be responsible for distributing the money Google collects to authors and publishers, there will be a strong incentive for rightsholders to come forward and claim their works. . . .

The agreement also authorizes Google and the libraries to create new services that will help people with disabilities such as visual impairment better experience these books. We are grateful to our library partners for investing so much painstaking effort over so many years to maintain their book collections, and we are excited at the prospect of their participation in this landmark project.

Oh, and PS, pay $125 million.

Google says that because this agreement is the result of a lawsuit, the changes will only be visible in the US. Outside the US, things will remain the same. (In case you don’t know, this probably has to do with the fact that foreign rights for a novel are purchased separately from domestic rights, and most of the time publisher buy US-only rights.)

This is pretty much awesome for me, since I’m getting too cheap to even drive to the library 😉 (that and I no longer believe indexes). Google has published the full text of the agreement which will go into effect pending judicial approval.