On the Code4Lib IRC channel Thursday afternoon, Roy Tennant, Senior Program Officer at OCLC Programs and Research, said that there is absolutely no connection between the policy change and the Google Book Search settlement.
The Original Post
Two big and seemingly unrelated things came to light on Tuesday of this week: first was word that OCLC is changing its policy on the use/transfer of WorldCat Records, and the second is news of a proposed settlement in the Google Book Search lawsuit. (In the case of the former, the a change was confirmed in an e-mail from Karen Calhoun, but we don't know what the change will be until it is published on Sunday.) These two would still seem unrelated were it not for a section of the Settlement Agreement. Specifically, Article III ("Google Book Search – Rights, Benefits and Obligations"), Section 3.1 ("Digitization, Identification and Use of Books"), subsection (b)(i) ("List of Digitized Books and Government Works"). From page 21-22 of the Settlement Agreement, with emphasis added:
As of the Notice Commencement Date, and upon Plaintiffs’ request, Google will provide Plaintiffs, in a form mutually agreed, with a ... list of all Books, Public Domain Books with a copyright date after 1922 and Government Works that Google reasonably anticipates it will Digitize on or before the Opt-Out Deadline, in each case, to the extent that Google is permitted to do so under then-existing contracts with Metadata providers. Google and Plaintiffs will cooperate to obtain such Metadata providers’ permission for Google to provide Plaintiffs with such lists; provided, however, that the [Book Rights] Registry shall be responsible for payment of any additional license fees to the extent required by such providers....
Interestingly, "Metadata" is defined in the Agreement ("data that describes other data") but "Metadata provider" is not. So we're left to speculate who has metadata about books that libraries would have that would be a part of a Google Library Project (GLP)? The leading candidate that I can think of is one whose initials are O, C, L, and C. With RLG effectively out of the picture, who is left? The Library of Congress? The individual libraries participating in the GLP? The latter, if the records in local systems were derived from OCLC, would seem to be covered under paragraph 3 of the existing agreement ((By the way, what is up with the list of pages that the Internet Archive has about oclc.org? Most of them seem to be the home page with some form of a URL query string with email-like header garbledy gook? I went there looking for the Wayback machine version of the OCLC policy page, since it is scheduled to change on Sunday, and found this instead.)):
In addition, each member and nonmember library may transfer records of its own holdings to commercial firms which the library has employed and agreed to pay to process such records, provided that each commercial firm has first signed an individual agreement with the library, or OCLC has advised the library that the commercial firm has signed a general agreement with OCLC, in either case containing measures agreed upon by OCLC and the commercial firm for protection of the records it has been employed to process. In addition, each member and nonmember library may make any other transfers of records to commercial firms, subject to prior written agreements with OCLC. However, there is no requirement for prior written agreements (a) for transfers made under Guideline 1 [for member library transfers] above to libraries operated by commercial firms or (b) for transfers to commercial firms by former OCLC member libraries of records of their holdings, so long as the libraries maintain no continuing user status with OCLC.
The first part of this paragraph, "the library has employed or agreed to pay to process such records" seems to hint at tape wash vendors -- those that will clean up headings and enhance records. So the second half of the paragraph would seem to apply to cases where a GLP partner wanted to give catalog records to Google as part of the Google Book Search project. And the only thing that would be required would be a prior written agreement with OCLC.
Again, these could be two unrelated events, and that they happened to be put together in my brain is just coincidence. Still, there does seem to be some possibility that Google is talking with OCLC about WorldCat records, and the anticipated change to the WorldCat Record Use/Transfer Policy could be related to efforts to use such records as part of the Google Book Search settlement.
What do you think? Am I way off base? [Update 20081030T1440 : It would appear so. Still, it was plausible.]
The text was modified to update a link from http://books.google.com/booksrightsholders/ to http://web.archive.org/web/20081219194925/http://books.google.com/booksrightsholders/ on August 22nd, 2013.