On October 4, 2012, Google and the Association of American Publishers (AAP) announced that the publisher plaintiffs and Google have reached a settlement of their dispute over Google’s mass copying and uploading of books (whether in the public domain or still protected by copyright) to which it had obtained access through agreements with several large libraries. These digitized books were then made available for searching and sometimes downloading (in whole or in part) through Google’s Library project. (The docket for the publisher’s lawsuit was The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. v. Google Inc., 05 Civ. 8881 (JES) (SDNY).)
(Details about the 2005 lawsuit and a proposed settlement that was rejected by the Court can be found in earlier posts.)
According to AAP, Google and the publishers agreed that “U.S. publishers can choose to make available or choose to remove their books and journals digitized 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.” Andi Sporkin, Association of American Publishers, Press Release (Oct. 4, 2012). Notwithstanding this agreement, U.S. publishers can continue to “make individual agreements with Google for use of their other digitally-scanned works.” Id.
The AFP reports that “publishers will have the option to allow Google to display portions or the entire book content, or to sell the work through Google Play.” Rob Lever, “Google, publishers end long-running copyright case,” AFP (Oct. 4, 2012). Users of the service, then, have the ability to browse up to 20% of books, and then purchase a digital copy through Google Play. Id.; Sorkin, Press Release.
The remaining terms of the settlement remain confidential, but it appears that the ongoing litigation between Google and the Authors’s Guild (Authors Guild et al. v. Google Inc., No. 05-08136 (SDNY) (trial court); No. 12-2402 (2d Cir.) (on appeal)) is unaffected by this settlement. “‘The publishers’ private settlement, whatever its terms, does not resolve the authors’ copyright infringement claims against Google,’ the Authors Guild said in a statement Thursday. ‘Google continues to profit from its use of millions of copyright-protected books without regard to authors’ rights, and our class-action lawsuit on behalf of U.S. authors continues.'” Michael Liedtke (AP Technology Writer), “Google, publishers shelve book-scanning suit,” AP (Oct. 4, 2012). That lawsuit remains suspended, pending appeal by Google of the Court’s grant of class certification for the authors whose claims were raised in the complaint. Grant McCool, “Authors Guild v. Google Lawsuit In U.S. Suspended Pending Appeal,” Reuters (Sept. 17, 2012).