Book Publishers’ Trade Group Settles With Google

The Association of American Publishers settles over Google's Library Project, though an authors' association remains a holdout.

One of Google’s more audacious projects finally got the seal of approval from a publisher’s group, nearly eight years after it started.

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

The Google Books Library Project, which scans millions of books from research libraries across the country and makes as many as 20 percent of copyrighted tomes readable online, has been a sticking spot for publishers and authors since it launched in late 2004.

In 2005, five major publishers sued the company over copyright issues related to the project, according to the Associated Press. But now, it looks like the Association of American Publishers (AAP) has scored a settlement in the long-running case, both sides announced Thursday.

Why the settlement? Well, since 2005, Google has become a bookseller in its own right, with its Google Play store, and likely needs to build strong relationships with booksellers over the long run as it competes with Apple and Amazon on the e-book front.

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

Meanwhile, Google is looking forward to getting back to innovation. “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,” said Google’s chief legal officer and senior vice president of corporate development, David Drummond, in a statement.

Google isn’t completely out of the woods yet — the Authors Guild has yet to come to an agreement with the company, though it is “cautiously optimistic” it can settle the case soon.

“We see [the agreement] as a sign of Google’s willingness [to be open] to the concept of settlement. And we hope we can get to the bargaining table as soon as we can,” Author’s Guild lawyer Michael J. Boni told the AP.

Terms of the publishers’ settlement have not been disclosed.

(photo by timetrax23/Flickr)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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