After a court battle that’s lasted just a couple weeks short of 7 years, Google and the Association of American Publishers are now announcing a settlement that will put their book-battle to rest. The situation was, back in 2005 that is, that Google was scanning books galore into their Google Library Project for sharing with the world – and five members of the AAP were not happy with that. The settlement that’s been reached has cash amounts unannounced – and they’ll likely remain unannounced as it’s been done out of court – and the publishers now have the rights to take or leave their works in Google’s care.
This settlement has the US publishers able to make available or choose to remove their works – books and journals of all kinds – digitized by Google for their Library Project. For works that the publishers decide to leave in the Library, Google will give the option of receiving a digital copy of for their use. This essentially means that if they want to use the digitized versions of their books in the future as made possible by Google, they’ll have to let Google work with a copy as well – but if they don’t, Google will toss the data entirely.
“We are pleased that this settlement addresses the issues that led to the litigation. It shows that digital services can provide innovative means to discover content while still respecting the rights of copyright-holders.” – Tom Allen, President and CEO, AAP
The agreement also works with Google Books, a program that already has users able to read up to 20% of a book before purchase. The agreement notes that books scanned by Google in the Library Project may be included by publishers in this program if they wish – of course the book would need to be submitted separately to the store, but that’s beside the point. Further details surrounding the settlement will likely remain confidential.
This case originally had a $125 million dollar settlement that would have allowed Google a registry of online books. This registry would have allowed US consumers and institutions of all kinds the ability to purchase access to the material. Judge Denny Chin overturned the decision in 2011 after an extended review starting in 2009, deciding that the court never had the power to set up a business arrangement such as the one that was made. It also noted that such an agreement would not allow anyone to possibly compete with Google, nor did it give Google any incentive to, as PC mag‘s recounting notes, “track down the authors of orphaned works.” Such is life!