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Google Books Privacy Policy

December 6, 2010 | View archived 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. For purchased books, we provide publishers with sales information, but do not provide personal information. For purchased books where we acted as the publisher's agent, we provide the publisher with information on the taxes we collect including the state, city and zip code from the purchaser's billing address. Google Books offers books for sale not only from books.google.com, but also through resellers as well (for example, for purchase off a reseller's website or reading device). When you purchase a book through a reseller, you will need to log in with your Google Account information or create a Google Account if you don't have one. Once you have logged in, if you choose to synchronize your Google Books account with your account with the reseller, we will share your Google Books information (e.g., all of your library shelves, titles, annotations, last five pages read for each book), except information regarding the seller(s) from whom you purchased your books, with the reseller. The reseller's treatment of that information (and any other information you submit to the reseller directly) will be governed by the reseller's privacy policy, not ours; please make sure to review any applicable privacy policy when you choose to purchase through a reseller.
  • When you use Google Books, we receive log information similar to what we receive in Web Search. This may include information such as the query term or page request (which may include book titles or 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 or your account.
  • Unless you are logged into your Google Account, your activity on Google Books will not be associated with your Google Account.
  • You may choose to use optional features within Google Books (such as My Library or purchased books) or other optional Google services (such as our Web History service) that require a Google Account and which may receive and store information from Google Books in association with your 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). However, you will not be able to delete the record of your purchase transaction (including the title of the book) from your Checkout account history.
  • Google uses the information it stores for the purposes discussed in the Google Privacy Policy, including to improve our services, for security, and to 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

The privacy practices that are specific to Google Books are:

  • To fulfill contractual commitments to rightsholders who license us books, we enforce certain security limits (for example, to prevent abusive sharing of purchased books and to enforce page view limits on some book previews), and we also enforce limits on the numbers of browsers or devices that can access an account during a given period of time. In order to enforce limits on numbers of devices, we will store the unique ID numbers of your devices on our servers. You can delete a device ID number when you wish to stop using that device.
  • You will need to have a Google Account in order to purchase books because account information is necessary to provide access to users who bought the book. We limit the information (such as books titles) we provide to credit card companies, and enable you to delete purchased books from your Google Account. However, you will not be able to delete the record of your purchase transaction (including the title of the book) from your Checkout account history.
  • In order to enable consistent reading position across devices and provide useful navigation within a book, we store the last five pages (only) in each book a user has viewed with the user's account. We also store pages viewed for security monitoring and/or if the user elects to use the Web History service.
  • 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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