We are likely to hear more about the agreement just reached by Google Books which will allow it to scan and put out-of-print books (but not yet of the age to enter the public domain) online for viewing or downloading for pay. Not all of the details were available over at the Google Blog, but this much was clear.
1. The agreement is between Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers and Google. 2. It will apply to all out-of-print books printed after 1923 (thus likely not yet in the public domain). 3. Those who own a legitimate copyright can opt out of the book being offered by Google by a specified date (which was not published in the blog). 4. Those holding that copyright on out-of-print books can establish privacy rights (who can view, etc) and set their own price if the book is priced for selling or withdraw the book altogether. 5. For books whose owners do not opt out, Google can make the book available for viewing or sale at a “reasonable default” price. 6. “This allows access to the many orphan works whose owners have not yet been found and accumulates revenue for the rights holders, giving them an incentive to step forward.”
More will surely be heard about this, both pro and con. It will mean access to books to some and stealing of rights of rights to others. It has a lot of importance to those of us who do family research or who have produced works of genealogical value.