The Association of American Publishers (AAP) announced today that it had settled long-standing litigation with Google over its book scanning project. Google was sued in late 2005 by the AAP (and individual publishers) and the Authors Guild on behalf of writers. The litigation sought more than $100 million in damages for copyright violations.
The settlement of the AAP claims doesn’t impact the Authors Guild class action suit, which lives on. The specific book-publisher plaintiffs in the action were McGraw-Hill, Pearson and Penguin, Wiley & Sons, Inc. and Simon & Schuster. Specific settlement terms, including any monetary damages, were not disclosed.
The AAP’s public statement says the following:
The settlement acknowledges the rights and interests of copyright-holders. US 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, US publishers can continue to make individual agreements with Google for use of their other digitally-scanned works.
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.
In other words, the publishers gained some concessions from Google that give them more discretion over what books are in or out of Google’s scanning library. They’re also free to negotiate individual arrangements and deal terms with Google.
An earlier more global settlement of the copyright claims in the case was rejected by the court on the basis of its “opt-out” language. That was deemed unfair to individual authors by Judge Dennis Chin. The AAP and Google don’t need court approval for this settlement because the publisher organization has requested dismissal of its case.
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