Google to pay $125 million in Book Search lawsuit

Google will pay $125 million in a settlement agreement with the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers (AAP) on behalf of authors and publishers worldwide. The lawsuit challenged Google’s plan to show clips of content from copyrighted books without explicit consent from copyright owners.

If approved by the US District Court for the Southern District of New York, the agreement would resolve a class action lawsuit filed by the Authors Guild and other book authors as well as a separate lawsuit filed by five large publishers as representatives of the AAP. The agreement was reached after two years of negotiations.

“This historic settlement is a win for everyone,” said Richard Sarnoff, AAP chair, in a statement. “From our perspective, the agreement creates an innovative framework for the use of copyrighted material in a rapidly digitizing world, serves readers by enabling broader access to a huge trove of hard-to-find books, and benefits the publishing community by establishing an attractive commercial model that offers both control and choice to the rightsholder.”

The agreement would increase authors’ and publishers’ ability to distribute content in digital form by expanding online access to books in the US from the collections of a number of major US libraries through Google Book Search. It also would enable them to receive compensation for access to their work.

The $125 million will establish the Book Rights Registry to resolve claims by authors and publishers and cover legal fees. US copyright holders can register their content with the Book Rights Registry to receive compensation from institutional subscriptions, book sales, ad revenues and cash payment if their book has been digitized previously.

The deal will allow free, full-text online viewing of millions of out-of-print books from select US public and university libraries.

“Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful,” said Sergey Brin, co-founder and president of technology at Google, in a statement. “Today, together with the authors, publishers and libraries, we have been able to make a great leap in this endeavor. While this agreement is a real win-win for all of us, the real victors are all the readers. The tremendous wealth of knowledge that lies within the books of the world will now be at their fingertips.”

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