Google announced a settlement agreement with “a broad class of authors and publishers” in October 2008, that if approved, will provide paid access to “millions of hard-to-find, out-of-print books” for private individuals, academic institutions, and public libraries, according to www.google.com.
Dr. Jeanine Varner, provost, submitted an amicus curiae brief to Judge Denny Chin of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in support of the defendant in The Authors Guild et al. v. Google, Inc.
“Our institutions have limited budgets for maintaining and expanding information services,” Varner wrote. “While we do not currently know the cost of this service, our expectation is that it will significantly less than the alternatives available to us today.”
More than 35 institutions and organizations, including Sony Electronics Inc., the University of Michigan, the University of Virginia and the American Association of People with Disabilities, have written letters advocating approval of the settlement, according to www.google.com.
Dr. William Rankin, director of educational innovation, recently was selected by Apple Inc. as one of 52 Apple Distinguished Educators.
Rankin said Google has scanned more than two million volumes, and all of them would be available to students.
“From a mobile learning standpoint, this is helpful because it gives people access to research materials on any device, including an iPhone or iPod touch,” Rankin said. “And we know that digital formats fit the way our students search for and discover information.”
In her letter, Varner pointed out the university understands and embraces the ideals of fair-use and copyright. The settlement aims to provide broad access, at a price, while preserving the quality of the resources. A provision in the settlement allows Google to sell an institutional subscription, which would allow universities such as ACU to provide their students complete access to a large database.
“Since the settlement’s full impact cannot be easily predicted, we do share a sense of uncertainty,” Varner wrote. “Nevertheless, it seems evident that the benefits of the settlement will be substantial for our institutions.”