Google, publishers reach book-scanning settlement

Publishers will be able to remove their books and journals from Google's Library Project

The Association of American Publishers and Google have reached a settlement to end seven years of litigation over the company's book-scanning project.

The agreement settles a copyright infringement lawsuit filed against Google in October 2005 by five AAP members. The settlement does not need court approval, Google and the AAP said in a joint news release.

The agreement "acknowledges" the rights and interests of copyright holders, the two sides said. U.S. publishers can choose to make available or choose to remove their books and journals digitized by Google for its Library Project.

The settlement shows that "digital services can provide innovative means to discover content while still respecting the rights of copyright-holders," Tom Allen, president and CEO of AAP, said in a statement.

The settlement does not affect Google's current litigation with the Authors Guild.

The agreement gives publishers who do not remove their works from the Google project the right to receive a digital copy for their use. Beyond the settlement, U.S publishers can make individual agreements with Google related to their other scanned works, the press release said.

Further terms of the agreement are confidential.

The agreement will allow Google to focus on its "core mission and work to increase the number of books available to educate, excite and entertain our users," David Drummond, Google's chief legal officer, said in a statement.

The settlement allows both sides to turn their focus to other issues, said James Grimmelmann, a professor at New York Law School who's been following the Google scanning cases. "If there is anything exciting in the settlement, Google and the publishers kept it to themselves," he said in an email. "This just cements the tacit truce between Google and publishers that has held for years."

The publisher plaintiffs in the lawsuit were McGraw-Hill, Pearson Education, Penguin Group, John Wiley & Sons and Simon & Schuster.

In the Authors Guild lawsuit against Google, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit granted a stay in the case in September while the court reviews a judge's decision to grant class-action status to the authors.

Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's e-mail address is grant_gross@idg.com.

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