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USA: Google Book Search Settlement

Google and The Authors Guild, the Association of American Publishers said that they have settled a book scanning lawsuit for $125 million. The deal, which still needs approval from a federal court in New York, would clear the way for the company to provide easier online access to millions of copyrighted books.

Google began scanning and uploading books four years ago. However, unlike other countries where it only scanned books fallen out of copyright, in the USA it scanned books that were still copyright protected and made them available through its book search program - enraging publishers and authors. Three years ago, the Authors Guild and others filed a class action lawsuit against Google Book Search. As part of the agreement Google will compensate them at a minimum of $60 per work, costing it up to $90m of the $125m deal.


With this agreement, in-copyright, out-of-print books will now be available for readers in the U.S. to search, preview and buy online ó something that was simply unavailable to date. Most of these books are difficult, if not impossible, to find. They are not sold through bookstores or held on most library shelves, yet they make up the vast majority of books in existence. Today, Google only shows snippets of text from the books where we donít have copyright holder permission. This agreement enables people to preview up to 20% of the book.

What makes this settlement so powerful is that in addition to being able to find and preview books more easily, users will also be able to read them. And when people read them, authors and publishers of in-copyright works will be compensated. If a reader in the U.S. finds an in-copyright book through Google Book Search, he or she will be able to pay to see the entire book online. Also, academic, library, corporate and government organizations will be able to purchase institutional subscriptions to make these books available to their members. For out-of-print books that in most cases do not have a commercial market, this opens a new revenue opportunity that didnít exist before.

For details of the agreement see the Google Press Release and The End of Snippet View: Google Settles Lawsuit with Book Publishers, New York Times. For German speaking readers see my post: Google Buchsuche - ‹berblick und erste Analyse des Vergleichs.

The agreement (141-page / 500KB PDF)





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