Google, Publishers Settle Book-Scanning Copyright Lawsuit

By Joseph Mandour on October 4, 2012

book-stackLos Angeles – Google Inc. and the Association of American Publishers said Thursday that they have struck a deal to resolve the publishers’ long-running copyright infringement case against the web giant over its book scanning and digitization project.

The settlement agreement will provide access to publishers’ in-copyright books and journals digitized by Google for its Google Library Project, the AAP said.

The five AAP publishers who filed the copyright lawsuit in October 2005 and are now parties to the settlement include The McGraw-Hill Companies Inc., Pearson Education Inc. and Penguin Group USA Inc., John Wiley & Sons Inc. and Simon & Schuster Inc.

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

Under the settlement deal, U.S. publishers can choose to either make available or remove their books and journals digitized by Google for the Library Project. Those deciding not to remove their works will have the option to receive a digital copy for their use.

Publishers can also continue to make individual agreements with Google for use of their other digitally-scanned works, outside of the bounds of the settlement.

“Google is a company that puts innovation front and center with all that it does,” Google’s chief legal officer and senior vice president for corporate development David Drummond said. “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.”

The parties declined to reveal any payments or other additional details connected to the confidential settlement.

The settlement caps seven years of litigation, including a controversial previous attempt to settle the case that Manhattan federal judge Denny Chin shot down in March 2011.

The current deal, at first blush, does not appear to differ significantly in its public terms from the concessions Google has long offered to make to the publishers.

The agreement does not affect Google’s ongoing litigation with the Authors Guild over its book-scanning project or address any underlying questions in that case. The Authors Guild litigation is currently on hold pending an appeal of Judge Chin’s decision to certify it as a class action.

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