After a seven-year legal battle, Google and the Association of American Publishers (AAP) have agreed to a settlement over creating digital copies of books in the Internet giant’s quest to become the world’s biggest digital library of books and journals.
The battle centered on whether the publishers’ copyrights were violated by Google, as the company scanned and posted millions of out-of-print books and journals online to its Google Library Project, making them searchable and readable to anyone. While the search giant defended its actions, arguing that it was supplying a vital public service by providing a home to rare books, where people could easily access them, the publishers and authors thought differently, claiming the company was illegally copying their work without offering the proper compensation and control over the texts.
Thanks to the agreement, the publishers involved in the dispute will be able to decide whether or not they want their work digitized and available via Google’s Library. Those that choose to participate will receive a digital copy of their material from Google, while the company will remove the books and journals of those who do not want their work virtually accessible.
“Google is a company that puts innovation front and center with all that it does,” said David Drummond, Senior Vice President, Corporate Development and Chief Legal Officer, Google. “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.”
In partnership with major libraries around the world, including the New York Public Library and Stanford University Libraries, Google has scanned roughly 15 million books in what the company deems an effort to provide easier access to the world’s knowledge. Google Books allows users to browse up to 20 percent of the books in its library and then purchase the digital iterations through Google Play. The lawsuit was filed by five AAP members, which included McGraw-Hill Companies Inc., Pearson Education Inc. and its sister Penguin Group USA, John Wiley & Sons and CBS Corp’s Simon and Schuster.
While Google settled one complaint, it still faces another, as the terms of this agreement do not affect the company’s current litigation with the Authors Guild, which focuses on the same copyright infringements. The group was recently granted a class action suit to challenge Google’s project after a New York judge rejected a proposed deal between the two parties in 2011.