Google Book Settlement: The Revenue Models

This post, from Jane, originally appeared on the Dear Author site on 8/2/09.

The point of the Google Book Settlement is to make money. There are some that argue that it is designed to provide more access to literature than is currently being provided, but money is involved here otherwise there wouldn’t be lawsuits.

Google Book Settlement has authorized four different revenue models and contemplates others. The four approved revenue models are as follows:

  1. Advertising revenue
  2. Institutional subscriptions
  3. Consumer purchases
  4. Per page printing fees

Advertising Revenue

Through the GBKS, Google is given the right to display advertisements on “Preview Use pages and other Online Book Pages.” Ads that appear on a general search results page are not considered “Advertising Use” and that money, then, is kept by Google. Revenues generated through ads within the pages of the books themselves (or ads that appear on searches within a particular book) will be shared with publishers and authors at a rate of 63% less BRR administrative fee.

Per Section 3.10(c)(iii) Google is not permitted to use “any pop-up, pop-under, or any other types of advertisements or content of any kind” and the Registry may restrict Google’s advertising for non Registered Rightsholders if Google is using animated, audio or video ads.

Institutional Subscriptions

Institutional Subscriptions is subscription access to a database of scanned books sold to institutions. The pricing will be set by Google and the BRR. It is likely that subscriptions will be offered in full access and smaller discipline-based collection but Google intends to price the different versions so that there is an incentive to purchase the access to the entire database. Section 4.1(a)(v)

To provide an incentive for institutions to subscribe to the entire Institutional Subscription Database, Google shall design the pricing of the different versions of the Institutional Subscription such that the price for access to the entire Institutional Subscription Database will be less than the sum of the prices for access to the discipline-based collections.

Google and the BRR will consider “the pricing of similar products and services available from third parties, the scope of Books available, the quality of the scan and the features offered as part of the Institutional Subscription.” 4.1(a)(ii)

The Uses contemplated by the agreement include “view, copy/paste up to 4 pages in a single command, and print pages of a Book (no greater than 20 pages in one command), and may enable Book Annotations.” All printed pages will include a visible watermark. Section 4.1(d)

Consumer Purchase

The agreement confers consumers the same use rights and restrictions as under Institutional Subscriptions including view, copy/paste, print & annotation if the latter has been permitted. Section 4.2(a).

Pricing is determined by Google & the BRR by default. The Rightsholder (and remember that could be any number of people with any disputes headed for arbitration) can notify Google of the price she wants the access to be sold. Failure to notify Google results in the Settlement Price being used. Section 4.2(b). Pricing Algorithm will be based on comparable sales data. Section 4.2(c)(ii)(2). Books are not individually priced but rather allotted placement in a Pricing Bin.

Read the rest of the post, including a detailed breakdown of the ‘Pricing Bin’ categories and payouts, on Dear Author.

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