Music Publishing and the Google Books Settlement

The Google Books settlement agreement makes for an interesting read. Trying to figure out what is means is challenging.

Whenever Google is involved, I know that if you don’t think they are taking advantage of creators, it’s because you haven’t thought about it long enough.

So think about this.

As a fundamental point, the settlement includes “Books” and “Inserts”. So let’s just leave the rest of the settlement agreement alone for the moment and focus on these two defined terms.

What is a the defined term “Book”? A Book is a hard copy with pages, but is also defined as what it is not. A Book does not include “Sheet music and other works that are used primarily for the playing of music.”

OK, fine. Let’s assume they are not going after sheet music. They probably can’t read anyway.

But what is the defined term “Insert”? For starters an Insert must “Consist either of (1) text…or song lyrics; or (2) …musical notation (i.e., notes on a staff or tablature)….”

So an Insert has song lyrics and musical notation. Gee, that sounds like sheet music to me.

And further:

For purposes of receiving payments for the use of Inserts, the Settlement identifies two types of Inserts:

• “Entire Insert,” which is an Insert that is an entire work, e.g., …the entire lyrics of a song….

• “Partial Insert,” which is any other type of Insert. Partial Inserts include excerpts from a work (e.g….portions of a song’s lyrics).”

So a Book doesn’t include sheet music, but an Insert does. Interesting.

How they come to get their paws on the sheet music from which they can rip the lyric remains to be seen, but it’s probably courtesy of your friendly college librarian by the looks of things, unless somehow they are intending to fit print sheet music publishers into the “Publisher” class in the class action settlement.

Sounds like they intend to have a lyric server, don’t it?