So, the original Google Settlement is dead, dead (spell that D-O-J: dead). As frequent readers of this blog may remember, I wasn’t too enthused about it, and I won’t be grieving.
I do, however, hope that some version does come to fruition. I think it has the potential to make enormous sums for most small and micro-presses, and to keep authors’ work alive for a far longer time.
It might even help reverse the steady decline in book reading that has afflicted this country.
What would I like to see in that agreement?
1. Compensation for the infringements to date going not to rightsholders, but to the formation of the rights registry. The proposed compensation in the old agreement was so small per title as to be utterly useless, but in the aggregate, it could move many mountains. That registry could benefit all of us in much larger ways, and forcing Google to pay for it will ensure that no other corporate behemoth gets the idea that they can infringe with impunity.
Part of the cost of establishing this registry would include widespread advertising in the US and elsewhere covering how the works can be claimed, or registered if not yet scanned, and where. It should also be possible to try to port the LOC rightsholder database over to the new registry.
2. All non-search uses on an opt-in basis ONLY during the life of copyright. This is critical, because anything less eviscerates all of copyright. It’s a precedent we cannot allow.
3. Search results displaying a reasonable amount (half a page? A whole page?) on an opt-out basis for all book length works. This is an exact parallel to web search (which has already been tested and found to be fair use), and is critical to growing our knowledge base. To do this, Google will get the right to scan anything not excluded by the rights holder. Google can monetize this with ad display, as is currently done for web sites.
4. Opt-in only licensing to libraries. A reasonable split would pro rate the licensing fees by the length of the file covering each work, payable to all rights holders as long as the work is in copyright.
5. Opt-in only licensing of the right to sell ebook, POD and other versions of the works in the database. I liked the 65/35 split between Google and the rights-holders. It seems reasonable.
So where do those enormous sums come in?
6. Every time someone clicks on a book search link, the page should include a free ad for the book. And if the book is available through their site or a major on-line source, it should include links to those sellers. Affiliate links, perhaps, so that Google gets a commission, but links nonetheless. I suspect that this will greatly increase book sales, especially for small presses and self-published authors.
I’m sure I missed some important points. What would you like to add?