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UMich first to sign up under Google Books settlement terms

University of Michigan would become the first institutional library to participate in Google's book-scanning project under the terms of a recent legal settlement.

The University of Michigan has signed up as the first library to participate in Google's book-scanning project under the terms of Google's proposed settlement with library groups.

Google and UM have been working together since 2004 on digitizing the university's library collection, but the Google Book Search settlement would allow Michigan to offer its books online as part of a subscription, or in some cases for free. The settlement has drawn reported attention from the government as well as library groups worried over the costs associated with access to such a large digital library amassed by a single company.

In exchange for participating in the project, however, Google plans to subsidize the cost of the university's subscription to the digital library. Michigan was also able to negotiate the right for future participants to review the cost of the institutional subscriptions from time to time. "If they determine that prices are too high, University of Michigan and other participating libraries who sign these collective terms can challenge the prices through arbitration, and Google will be required to work with the (Book Rights) Registry to adjust the pricing accordingly," the university said on its Web site.

Authors have until September to decide if they want to opt out of the settlement and withhold their works from the digital library. The settlement would have Google install a free public terminal in libraries around the country for access to digital copies of public domain works, copyright works that Google is authorized to reproduce, and out-of-print titles. Other libraries would then be offered a subscription to the digital library for their own patrons.