AAP Publishers Get More Control Over Google As They Settle 7-Year Copyright Infringement Suit Over Google Library Project

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Google has finally made some headway on the litigation over copyright infringement for the Google Library Project; and the deal puts in place another key piece of the puzzle for Google Books. Google has reached a settlement with the Association of American Publishers, ending a seven-year legal dispute over the use of books and journals by Google in its Library Project. The suit was first filed in 2005 by McGraw-Hill, Penguin USA, Simon & Schuster, Pearson Education and John Wiley. It was one of a number of legal actions taken by publishers against the search giant as it moved further into books. Among those, Google is still in dispute with the Authors Guild, although it appears to now be working through another high-profile dispute, with French publishers.

Update: The Authors Guild has provided a statement about its going litigation: “The publishers’ private settlement, whatever its terms, does not resolve the authors’ copyright infringement claims against Google. Google continues to profit from its use of millions of copyright-protected books without regard to authors’ rights, and our class-action lawsuit on behalf of U.S. authors continues.” [original article continues below]

Under the new agreement, publishers will have more control over how works that they own appear in Google’s self-described online “card catalog”; and the publishers will get more routes for potentially making money from books that appear in the Library Project, which is free to use and brings together content libraries and other sources online.

The Library Project is not about full-length content, but is more about giving book excerpts. “We’re working with several major libraries to include their collections in Google Books and, like a card catalog, show users information about the book, and in many cases, a few snippets – a few sentences to display the search term in context,” says Google in its intro to the service.

That still didn’t wash with publishers, though, who maintained that the “excerpt” was enough for those TL;DR people out there who would be put off from buying the actual item as a result.

All that looks like it will now change.

Specifically, publishers will get to “choose to make available or choose to remove their books and journals digitized by Google for its Library Project.” Those who stay in get digital copies for their own use — possibly even to sell through other routes.

Furthermore, the settlement creates a route for how books for the Library Project can also be sold by Google: Google Books allows users to browse up to 20% of books and then purchase digital versions through Google Play.  And under the agreement, books scanned by Google in the Library Project can now be included by publishers.

The deal also leaves open the possibility also for publishers to continue to strike direct deals with Google, outside of any AAP-led agreements.

“We are pleased that this settlement addresses the issues that led to the litigation,” said Tom Allen, President and CEO, AAP, in a statment.  “It shows that digital services can provide innovative means to discover content while still respecting the rights of copyright-holders.”

The two sides say that the court does not need to approve the deal, and the financial terms of it, if any, have not been disclosed.

Full release below.

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. and WASHINGTON, Oct. 4, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The Association of American Publishers (AAP) and Google today announced a settlement agreement that will provide access to publishers’ in-copyright books and journals digitized by Google for its Google Library Project.  The dismissal of the lawsuit will end seven years of litigation.

The agreement settles a copyright infringement lawsuit filed against Google on October 19, 2005 by five AAP member publishers.  As the settlement is between the parties to the litigation, the court is not required to approve its terms.

The settlement acknowledges the rights and interests of copyright-holders.  U.S. publishers can choose to make available or choose to remove their books and journals digitized by Google for its Library Project.  Those deciding not to remove their works will have the option to receive a digital copy for their use.

Apart from the settlement, U.S. publishers can continue to make individual agreements with Google for use of their other digitally-scanned works.

“We are pleased that this settlement addresses the issues that led to the litigation,” said Tom Allen, President and CEO, AAP.  “It shows that digital services can provide innovative means to discover content while still respecting the rights of copyright-holders.”

“Google is a company that puts innovation front and center with all that it does,” said David Drummond, Senior Vice President, Corporate Development and Chief Legal Officer, Google.  “By putting this litigation with the publishers behind us, we can stay focused on our core mission and work to increase the number of books available to educate, excite and entertain our users via Google Play.”

Google Books allows users to browse up to 20% of books and then purchase digital versions through Google Play.  Under the agreement, books scanned by Google in the Library Project can now be included by publishers.

Further terms of the agreement are confidential.

This settlement does not affect Google’s current litigation with the Authors Guild or otherwise address the underlying questions in that suit.

The publisher plaintiffs are The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.; Pearson Education, Inc. and Penguin Group (USA) Inc., both part of Pearson; John Wiley & Sons, Inc.; and Simon & Schuster, Inc. part of CBS Corporation.

About the Association of American Publishers
The 300 members of AAP are building the future of publishing.  AAP represents America’s premier creators of high-quality entertainment, education, scientific and professional published content.  We dedicate the creative, intellectual, financial and technological investments to bring great ideas to life and deliver content to the world’s audiences in all the ways they seek it.

About Google Inc.
Google is a global technology leader focused on improving the ways people connect with information. Google’s innovations in web search and advertising have made its website a top Internet property and its brand one of the most recognized in the world.

Google is a trademark of Google Inc. All other company and product names may be trademarks of the respective companies with which they are associated.

SOURCE Association of American Publishers

PR Newswire (http://s.tt/1p9uW)