Google and publishers reach settlement on Google Books project

Google, the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers announced this morning a settlement in the ongoing court case  regarding the Google book digitization project launched in 2004.  

According to the release: 

“If approved, the Settlement will authorize Google to continue to scan in-copyright Books and Inserts; to develop an electronic Books database; to sell subscriptions to the Books database to schools, corporations and other institutions; to sell individual Books to consumers; and to place advertisements next to pages of Books. Google will pay Rightsholders, through a Book Rights Registry (“Registry”), 63% of all revenues earned from these uses, and the Registry will distribute those revenues to the Rightsholders of the Books and Inserts who register with the Registry. “ 

The proposed Settlement also will authorize Google to provide public and higher education libraries with free access to the Books database. Certain libraries that are providing Books to Google for scanning are authorized to make limited “non-display uses” of the Books.”


In addition:

Google will make payments totaling $125 million to establish the Book Rights Registry, to resolve existing claims by authors and publishers and to cover legal fees.  Of this total, Google will pay $34.5 million for the establishment and initial operations of the Book Rights Registry.  Google will also pay a minimum of $45 million to pay rightsholders whose Books and Inserts were digitized prior to the deadline for rightsholders to opt out of the settlement.

It was reasonably clear from the outset that there would be a settlement, since the activity that Google was undertaking was by most reasonable perspectives a violation of copyright for in-copyright works.  I think it is also clear that while the information will be available to patrons of the partner libraries, the rest of us will have to pay for access to Google’s library at some point down the road.  There is a lot to chew on here and something that we’ll be talking about for weeks and months to come. 

More information from Google is here.  From AAP here.