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British Library and Google deal: Some of the fine print

The British Library has announced a deal that has Google digitizng 250,000 works, and that will allow users to access the out-of-copyright work on both the Library’s and Google Books sites. David Dorman of Marlboro College posted the following on the DPLA mailing list. (Reposted with his permission.)

I recently had the following exchange with Miki Lentin, Head of Media Relations, at the British Library:

David: I would like to see a copy of the agreement between the British Library and Google. Is it being made publicly available in either full or abbreviated form? If so, could you let me know how I could obtain a copy? If it is not being made available, I would appreciate your responding to the following questions I have about the agreement:

Miki: The contract is commercial in confidence so can’t be released.

David: What are the digitization specifications? I am curious to know if they conform to digital preservation standards.

Miki:The exact digitisation specifications for the project are commercial in confidence; however Google’s technical standards do meet the standards that Library would put in place for any digitisation activity. The Library has carefully considered the long-term digital preservation issues for this project and will be ingesting the digitised content into our Digital Library System for preservation purposes.

David: Will the British Library have its own copy of each resource, or will it need to rely on Google’s copies for access?

Miki: The Library will have its own copy of each item and there will therefore be two copies. A Google and a Library copy.

David: Does the agreement give Google exclusive digitization rights, or restrict digitization rights in any way, for these resources?

Miki: The contract is non exclusive and the Library is able to partner with whoever they choose.

David: Does the agreement put any restrictions on the distribution or use of the digitized resources, or their potential methods of access? For example, if I wanted to provide my own access system to the resources, as well as to parse the resources for enhanced usability, would it be consistent with the agreement for the British library to provide me with descriptive metadata for the resources and bulk download accessibility to the resources, so that I could obtain my own copies of the descriptive metadata anat all d the resources for the purpose of providing access and use as I see fit? Please note that I am not inquiring whether or not it is the policy or practice of the British Library to provide such services for digitized resources. I am asking only if providing such services would be prohibited by the agreement with Google.

Miki: The material may be used for a range of non-commercial purposes under the terms of the contract. The contract allows for a range of re-uses. For text mining for non commercial ends will be taken on a case by case basis.

David: Will the British Library be receiving any compensation by Google in connection with access to the resources?

Miki: Other than our copy of the digital asset, no.

One Response to “British Library and Google deal: Some of the fine print”

  1. […] British Library and Google deal: Some of the fine print- David Weinberger, June 23, 2011 […]


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