After almost seven years of litigation, Google and the Association of American Publishers (AAP), representing five US publisher plaintiffs, have reached a settlement in the litigation over Google’s book scanning project, reports Publishers Weekly.
The AAP said in a statement on 4 October that the settlement means the lawsuit against Google, which was filed in October 2005, has been dismissed. The association said the settlement ‘will provide access to publishers’ in-copyright books and journals digitised by Google for its Google Library Project’.
‘The settlement acknowledges the rights and interests of copyright-holders,’ said the AAP. ‘US publishers can choose to make available or choose to remove their books and journals digitised by Google for its Library Project. Those deciding not to remove their works will have the option to receive a digital copy for their use.’
Google director of strategic partnerships Tom Turvey told Publishers Weekly that publishers will own these digital copies and will have ‘broad rights’ to commercialise them or make them available through other search engines.
While some of the terms of the agreement, including if any payments were made to the parties involved, were not disclosed, the AAP said that ‘apart from the settlement, US publishers can continue to make individual agreements with Google for use of their other digitally scanned works’. The AAP also indicated that ‘the settlement does not affect Google’s current litigation with the Authors Guild or otherwise address the underlying questions in that suit’.
The publishers involved in the seven-year legal battle are McGraw-Hill, Pearson-owned companies Pearson Education and Penguin, John Wiley & Sons and Simon & Schuster. As previously reported by Bookseller+Publisher, US judge Denny Chin rejected a proposed settlement in the case in March 2011, concluding at the time that the terms of the Amended Settlement Agreement, particularly the ‘opt-in’ nature of the settlement, were ‘not fair, adequate and reasonable’.
AAP president Tom Allen told Publishers Weekly that ‘the world has changed a lot’ since the lawsuit was filed in 2005. ‘After Judge Chin rejected the settlement there was some thought to trying to revive this as a class action, but we really couldn’t come to an agreement, so we went back to the original lawsuit, which was not a class action, and basically worked out an arrangement that doesn’t resolve the legal issues,’ said Allen. ‘We agree to disagree on those, but as a practical matter, [the settlement] does resolve our differences with Google.’
Meanwhile, the litigation between the US Authors’ Guild and Google has been postponed indefinitely in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. The court has granted a stay in the case until it issues its decision on Chin’s ruling in May, which granted the case class action status.