Google Reaches Copyright Settlement With Publishers, Will Digital Book Project Move Forward?

Late last year, Google settled one of the long-standing copyright infringement lawsuits challenging its digital book project. Google and the publishers had disagreed regarding whether scanning the books constituted fair use.

The controversial Google Library Project allows users to search and read books online. Google display 20 percent of the text in a search and allows consumers to purchase the entire book through its online storefront, Google Play. Under the terms of the settlement, each publishing house will now be able to decide whether it wants the search giant to digitize its books for inclusion in the project.

As reported by The New York Times, the settlement is largely a win-win for both sides. If publishers decide to grant permission for Google to digitize their copyrighted yet out-of-print books, Google can add the books to its growing online library. Meanwhile, publishers will receive their own digital copy, which can then be sold online as an e-book.

“What’s really exciting about today’s settlement is the fact that Google will be getting access to books that have long been out of print, that are in copyright,” said Tom Turvey, director of strategic partnerships at Google. “It’s good for users who weren’t able to buy them before, and for publishers.”

Despite the settlement, challenges still remain for Google’s ambitious digitization project. The larger copyright infringement lawsuit brought by the Authors Guild is still pending on appeal. Although Google did not completely abandon its fair use defense, it will be interesting to see how the case may be impacted by the settlement.

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