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Google Books Privacy Policy

Archived Version: September 3, 2009 | View Current Version

The main Google Privacy Policy describes how we treat personal information when you use Google's products and services, including Google Books. This additional Policy for Google Books does three things: (1) it highlights key provisions of the main Google Privacy Policy in the context of the Google Books service, (2) it describes privacy practices specific to the Google Books service, and (3) it describes planned privacy practices for services proposed in the Google Books legal settlement, which is currently awaiting court approval.

Key provisions from the Google Privacy Policy

All of the provisions of the Google Privacy Policy apply to the Google Books service. Among other things, this means:

  • We do not share your personal information with third parties, except in the narrow circumstances described in the Privacy Policy, such as emergencies or in response to valid legal process.
  • When you use Google Books, we receive log information similar to what we receive in Web Search. This includes: the query term or page request (which may include specific pages within a book you are browsing), Internet Protocol address, browser type, browser language, the date and time of your request and one or more cookies that may uniquely identify your browser.
  • In addition, you may choose to use other optional services that require a Google Account and which may receive and store information from Google Books in association with your Account, such as our Web History service. Unless you are logged in and using such a service, your activity on Google Books will not be associated with your Google Account. Books features that store information with your Account will show you the information you have stored and allow you to delete it (unless we are required to keep it by law or for legitimate and limited business purposes such as fraud investigations.) Google uses the information it stores for the purposes discussed in the Google Privacy Policy, including to improve our services and report on aggregate user trends.
  • Usage data from the Books product is subject to the same security standards that are outlined in our main Privacy Policy.

Practices specific to the current Google Books product

Google Books operates a lot like Web Search and other basic Google web services, so there are relatively few privacy practices that are unique to the Google Books product. Those include:

  • The My Library feature lets you maintain a public online list of your favorite books and your reviews of those books. This information is stored with your Google Account. You may review and delete the information stored in the My Library feature at any time.
  • To fulfill contractual commitments to rightsholders who license us books, we use log information (including IP address and cookie from the user's browser but not including user account information) to enforce security limits, such as restrictions on the number of pages users can see from a particular book.
  • Special legal privacy protections for users may apply in cases where law enforcement or civil litigants ask Google for information about what books an individual user has looked at. Some jurisdictions have special "books laws" saying that this information is not available unless the person asking for it meets a special, high standard - such as proving to a court that there is a compelling need for the information, and that this need outweighs the reader's interest in reading anonymously under the United States First Amendment or other applicable laws. Where these "books laws" exist and apply to Google Books, we will raise them. We will also continue our strong history of fighting for high standards to protect users, regardless of whether a particular "books law" applies. In addition, we are committed to notifying the affected user if we receive such a request that may lead to disclosure of their information; if we are permitted to do so by law and if we have an effective way to contact the user, we will seek to do so in time for the user to challenge the request.

Practices specific to services proposed under the pending settlement agreement

Google has reached a settlement agreement in copyright litigation which, if approved, will authorize additional services for users in the United States as part of the Google Books product. Those additional services have not yet been designed but we know that they will honor our existing privacy commitments listed in this Privacy Policy, as well as the following:

  • The Book Rights Registry created under the settlement will receive aggregate, non-personally identifiable information about usage of Google Books. Like any other third party, the Registry will not have access to individual user information unless it goes through proper legal processes or in other narrow circumstances set out in the Privacy Policy. Google will not require users to create Google accounts, or in any way register their identity with Google, in order to use the following planned services:
    • Free online viewing of pages from books covered under the settlement
    • Use of the Institutional Subscription. Schools or other institutions that sign up for subscriptions will be able to authenticate users based on the user's or the institution's IP address, or using other technologies that allow Google to confirm that a user is part of a subscribing institution without knowing who that user is.
    • Use of Public Access Service terminals in public libraries. Users will not need to register with Google to use these terminals. Google will receive IP address and cookie information that may identify internet connection or browser, but not the actual user.
  • Users will need to have Google Accounts in order to purchase books because such information is necessary to provide access to the user who bought the book. However, we plan to build protections to limit the information (such as book titles) available to credit card companies about book purchases, and to enable you to delete or disassociate the titles of books purchased from your Google Account.
  • Any publicly available product authorized by the settlement will have a privacy policy comparable to policies you can see in our Privacy Center today for other Google products. That policy, in combination with the main Google Privacy Policy, will explain what information Google receives and stores when you use the product including any unique identifiers such as your account information, what we may do with that information, what security standards protect it against unauthorized access, and what choices you have about data provided to Google when you use the product as well as information about our data retention practices.

For additional information about Google Books and privacy, please see our FAQ.

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