Ogled by Google

Over the past decade, Google has digitized thousands of books with or without the copyright holders’ permission. This led to the Authors Guild, along with the American Publishers Association, suing Google. Out of this lawsuit came the Google Book Settlement, This settlement has not yet been approved by the courts.

Now Google has announced that they will begin selling ebooks this summer (either in June or July).

This raises a number of questions in my mind.

Google says that users will be able to purchase digital copies of books they discover through Google’s book search service. Isn’t this the very same database that features books involved in the lawsuit that has not yet been settled?

Google has also stated that they will assign ISBN numbers to their Google Edition ebooks. Does this mean that they will sell ebook versions of all the books in their database with or without the rights holders’ permission?

Since the Google Book Settlement has not yet been approved by the court, Google does not have to follow it. Does this mean that Google will start selling those books covered under the Google Book Settlement in ebook format without paying the rights holders?

In the Google Book Settlement (section 4.5.i), it states “Google shall pay to the Registry, on behalf of the Rights holders, the Standard Revenue Split for Purchases. The “Standard Revenue Split for Purchases,” paid by Google to Rights holders, through the Registry, is seventy percent (70%) of Net Purchase Revenues.”

The Books Right Registry has not yet been founded, since the Google Book Settlement has not yet been approved. The purpose of the Books Right Registry is to collect and disburse revenue from third party users of content (Google) to authors, publishers, and other rights holders. Since it does not exist, how can Google make payment to the Registry for ebooks it is selling, so that the Registry will pay the rights holder?

Google has also announced that third-party retailers can sell Google Edition ebooks. They say that when Google sells the e-book directly from their website, “publishers” will get 63 percent of the revenue and Google will keep the rest. When a third-party retailer sells the e-book, the “publisher” will get 45 percent, and the retailer will get “most of the remaining 55 percent.”

63 percent? 45 percent? What about the 70 percent written in the not-yet-approved Google Book Settlement?

I am so confused. If any of you have any information that would shed light on this subject, please share it with me and the other readers of this blog.


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