Google Book Settlement revised; Open Book Alliance pans it as mere 'nip and tuck'

Google, the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers have modified their digital book agreement in an effort to placate the Justice Department and other critics.

Google, the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers have modified their digital book agreement in an effort to placate the Justice Department and critics of the deal.

Among the key items in the revised settlement, detailed on Google's public policy blog (PDF summary):

  • The deal only covers books registered with the U.S. Copyright Office or published in the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada. Among the key items:
  • The new agreement addresses orphan works, which have unknown rights holders and limits what can be done with revenue garnered from these books.
  • An independent fiduciary will look out for the rights holders of these orphan works.
  • Google's algorithm for creating competitive pricing in the book market was clarified.

It's unclear whether the deal will mollify critics and regulators. Google's book settlement gave the search giant permission to scan books and sell access to them for revenue sharing and a $125 million fee.

Critics, including regulators, Amazon.com and other groups, say the Google deal is anticompetitive and cover authors and publishers not covered by the Author's Guild and Association of American Publishers.

The Open Book Alliance, which opposes the Google Books Settlement, already panned the deal. In a blog post, Open Book Alliance co-chair Peter Brantley noted:

“Our initial review of the new proposal tells us that Google and its partners are performing a sleight of hand; fundamentally, this settlement remains a set-piece designed to serve the private commercial interests of Google and its partners.  None of the proposed changes appear to address the fundamental flaws illuminated by the Department of Justice and other critics that impact public interest.

The Open Book Alliance called the latest Google book settlement merely a "nip and tuck."

Related: Google's book settlement: Here comes the DOJ and likely deal tweaks