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AAP Chairman Richard Sarnoff's Statement regarding Google Settlement
Media Teleconference
October 28, 2008


I'm Richard Sarnoff, the Chairman of the Board of Association of American Publishers. The AAP represents the U.S. book publishing industry. Our membership includes most of the major commercial publishers in the U.S. as well as smaller and non-profit publishers, university presses and scholarly societies.

This settlement clearly took a long time to negotiate, and rightly so--it is breathtaking in scope, groundbreaking for publishers and authors, and trailblazing for intellectual property in general. Rather than rehash the original copyright claims that led to this agreement, I will address the wider landscape of the agreement, and then highlight some of its more salient points.

The primary implications of digital technology and the internet for publishing fall into two large buckets--discovery and consumption. We as publishers are  encouraging the widest possible digital discovery for books while ensuring the best possible commercial prospects for those books across both print and electronic markets.

When these two goals overlap, there is an interesting line-drawing exercise to be done; one that can end in stalemate and stasis, or one which can lead to pioneering new access and commercial models, and that is what we have done together here.

Said differently, the key digital dilemma for publishers is: “How do you ensure that an oceanof digital discovery flows into a waterwheel of digital consumption for the benefit of rights holders and readers?”

This settlement is an answer to that question, and one that in parallel serves the interests of educational institutions, libraries, scholars, researchers, readers, and Google, as well as publishers and authors. Given all of those diverging interests, this has been a challenging road to settlement, but this agreement enables the parties here to do so much more together than each of us could have done alone,even with a legal ruling from the courts.  {And I salute my colleagues at the AAP, the Authors Guild, Google, and at the University Libraries—and in particular all of our legal representatives--for their flexibility and creativity, as well as their tenacity, in arriving at this historic settlement.}

Today, when a reader or researcher tries to gain access to an out-of-print book, it is a labor intensive task--particularly if their library does not have a copy available in the stacks. This settlement changes all that with an innovative 21st Century solution. Authors, Google and Publishers have created a plan that will provide a tremendous expansion of access to millions of out of print, in-copyright books from the collections of major U.S. libraries participating in Google Library Project, a vast storehouse of human knowledge, experience, and imagination.

Under this settlement agreement, readers in the U.S. will be able to search these books and preview them on line. If a university or college procures an institutional subscription, it will allow for full on-line access to the text of those books by students and faculty through that institution's servers...The parties have also agreed that free access will be allowed at designated computers in U.S. public and university libraries.

Individual readers and researchers will be pleased to know that the settlement will create an ability to purchase access to these out-of-print titles on a book-by-book basis through a newelectronic marketplace. It should be noted that rights holders can exercise both access and pricing control for their out-of-print books if they choose to do so. And rightsholders of in-print books can take advantage of all of the discovery and consumption channels that will be set up through this settlement, if they elect to do so.

And there is more. Google has agreed to help authors and publishers establish a Book Rights Registry.  Thisindependent, non-profit Registry will create an authoritative rights holder database, distribute payments provided for under the settlement from Google to rights holders, and resolve claims disputes between those rights holders. The Registry will also be able to offer similar commercial licenses to companies other than Google, if the rightsholder so chooses.

Those highlights illustrate why we publishers believe this extraordinary settlement is a win for everyone. The agreement creates an innovative framework for the use of copyrighted material in a rapidly digitizing world, enables broader access to a huge trove of previously hard-to-find books, and establishes an attractive commercial model whichoffers both control and choice to rights holders.

In summary, this innovative settlement breathes new life into millions of books without jeopardizing the rights of intellectual property owners. Thank you and I am happy to answer any questions.


© 2007 American Association of Publishers Back to Top