Google Settles Copyright Infringement Suit
October 4, 2012

Google Reaches Settlement Over Copyright Infringement Suit

Michael Harper for — Your Universe Online

Google has announced today they´ve been able to strike a deal with the Association of American Publishers, ending a 7-year spat between the two. With this settlement, Google may have one more stone in place to build out their eBook service, Google Books.

In 2005, the AAP, along with McGraw-Hill, Penguin USA, Simon & Schuster, Pearson Education and John Wiley, filed a lawsuit against Google for copyright infringement over their plan to scan and digitize protected journals and text books for their Library Project. As they came to this settlement on their own, the terms will not be subject to court approval, allowing both parties to move on amicably.

This new settlement “acknowledges the rights and interests of copyright-holders,” according to Google´s statement. Under this agreement, U.S. publishers have the choice to either have their published works included or removed from the Library Project. As a sort of payment for digitizing their books, Google will also provide an electronic copy to any publisher who decides to include their content in the electronic library. Separately, these U.S. publishers are free to make other agreements with Google concerning their scanned books.

"We are pleased that this settlement addresses the issues that led to the litigation," exclaimed Tom Allen, AAP´s president and CEO.

"It shows that digital services can provide innovative means to discover content while still respecting the rights of copyright-holders."

With this deal settled, Google can now start scanning as many books as the publishers allow. The Mountain View Company also said they´ll be making these books available to users in their Google Play store. As a part of the agreement, the publishers now also have the option to include any of their scanned books in the Google Play store as well.

Other aspects of this settlement, such as any financial details, will remain confidential.

This settlement does not address or resolve Google´s current legal woes with The Authors Guild, however, which is also suing the company for copyright infringement.

In an emailed statement to Bloomberg, Paul Aiken, executive director of The Author´s Guild, said: “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.”

Allen also says this agreement favors those publishers who belong to associations, as the assumption is that only these publishers will have the chance to opt in or out of Google´s scanning.

Tom Turvery, Google´s director of strategic partnerships, told Bloomberg they´ve already begun to sign separate deals with these publishers.

Google has tried before to reach a settlement in this deal. In a 2011 settlement attempt, Google said they would pay $125 million to settle any outstanding claims against them and, in exchange, would establish a “Book Rights Registry,” offering portions of the sales of these books back to the publisher. The Judge who rejected this settlement said it would give Google a “significant advantage over competitors, rewarding it for engaging in wholesale copying of copyrighted works without permission.”