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Stanford signs Google Book Search agreement, endorses court settlement

Google agreement expands digital scanning of millions of Stanford library books.

Stanford University has affirmed its support for the recently amended Google Book Search settlement agreement, which is now before a federal court, by expanding its earlier agreement with Google Inc. to digitize its library materials.

Stanford’s expanded agreement, which establishes it as a Fully Participating Library under the terms of the amended settlement agreement, is a milestone in Stanford’s commitment to the program and to the provision of public access to millions of its books.

"Stanford is on the cutting edge of technology development and is using technology to improve access to information not just for their faculty and students, but for the world," said Dan Clancy, Google Books engineering director. "Their early participation was important to the establishment of the Google Books project, and we’re very pleased that they have continued to support this effort and expanded their commitment under the terms of the settlement."

University Librarian Michael A. Keller said, "We are highly supportive of the amended settlement, which offers an enormous public good, making the full text of millions of books available to the American public."

Keller added that another effect of the settlement is to respect the rights and prerogatives of authors and publishers at the same time as it increases public access. "The settlement creates a working partnership among authors, publishers, libraries and Google that will usher in a revolutionary change in access to books on library shelves, even beyond the incredibly powerful vision that Google Books first developed. It’s no longer just about finding books of potential interest; it makes them vastly more readily readable. The agreement also compensates authors and publishers for the use of works that, by virtue of being out of print, would not have earned the rightsholders any income – a novel and, for most authors, a most welcome innovation."

Over the past five years, Google has scanned over 1.7 million books owned by Stanford, and plans to scan millions more. More than two dozen other major libraries around the world are now involved in this project.

Provost John Etchemendy signed the agreement for Stanford University. "This agreement is consistent with Stanford’s mission of sharing and disseminating knowledge, and allows us to expand our participation by sharing more works from our library," Etchemendy said. "We support the efforts to make books more broadly available to the American public and to all of higher education."

Stanford’s relationship with the project is overseen by its Board of Trustees. Walter Hewlett, a member of Stanford’s Ad Hoc Committee on the Google Book Search Project and a former trustee, said, "I think this proposed settlement will break the logjam that has locked up orphan works for so many years."

Orphan works are those books that are still under copyright for which no rightsholder can be identified. By creating a Registry that will locate rightsholders and providing incentives for rightsholders to come forward, the settlement will reduce the scope of the orphan works problem.  The settlement will also dramatically expand access to the small minority of books that remain truly abandoned. 

Media Contact

Lisa Lapin, University Communications: (650) 725-8396, lapin@stanford.edu