updated 8/14/2009 10:39:46 AM ET 2009-08-14T14:39:46

Google Inc. is now enabling authors and publishers who release their work under Creative Commons licenses to distribute it through Google Books, a free service that allows users to search and read books online.

Creative Commons is a nonprofit group that encourages writers, artists and others to use its licensing tools to let their work to be reused and shared by others in certain ways.

In a blog post Thursday, Google Books associate product manager Xian Ke wrote that rights holders who are already part of Google Books' partner program can update their account settings. Those who aren't can sign up to be a partner and choose one of seven different Creative Commons licenses.

People will be able to download these books from Google Books and share them. If rights holders indicate that people can modify their books, readers will be able to do that, too.

Those who download the books will be agreeing that they will only use them in the ways the license says they may. This could include giving the author credit if they remix the work or distribute it publicly, Ke wrote.

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