Google Offers Assurances To European Copyright Holders


The move, disclosed in a blog posted Monday, comes just days after Google unveiled a draft of a privacy policy governing the controversial Google Books. Google Books is the online search giant's service for selling digitized versions of thousands of out-of-print books. The service is currently in a beta stage of development.

European authors and publishers have been outspoken in their opposition to a proposed $125 million settlement of a lawsuit in the U.S. between Google and U.S. authors and publishers who sued Google in 2005 over Google Books. Approval of that settlement, which would cover books covered by copyright in the U.S., is pending in a U.S. District Court.

A number of U.S.-based organizations and companies, the latter including Microsoft and Amazon, remain opposed to the settlement.

Representatives of European authors and publishers were critical of the proposed settlement Monday during a hearing in Brussels sponsored by the European Commission. They said the settlement would give Google too much power by granting it exclusive rights to sell out-of-print books that remain under copyright, according to a story in The New York Times.

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Up to 80 percent of all books still under copyright are either out of print or hard to find, said the blog posted Monday by Daniel Clancy, Google engineering director. Clancy, however, said digitized versions of books considered out of print in the U.S. but still commercially available in Europe would not be sold online unless European copyright holders gave their explicit consent.

"European authors and publishers whose books have been scanned from an American library may benefit from the new revenue that will come as American readers discover and purchase their books," Clancy wrote in the blog. "They can register with the new registry to control and profit from online access to their books or, just like American authors, they can choose to opt out."

Google, in a letter to European publishers, offered the publishers representation on a board to oversee a "book rights registry," which will distribute royalties from digital book sales, under the plan spelled out in the settlement, according to The New York Times article.