Google and The Authors Guild, the Association of American Publishers said Tuesday that they have settled a book scanning lawsuit for $125 million.
The agreement ends a two-year class action suit over Google's scanning of in-copyright books and other written property for its Google Book Search. The settlement also covers a separate lawsuit from five large publishers including CBS, owner of this site.
According to a press release on the settlement:
The agreement acknowledges the rights and interests of copyright owners, provides an efficient means for them to control how their intellectual property is accessed online and enables them to receive compensation for online access to their works.
In a nutshell, Google gets to scan books as long as it offers the ability to purchase them, provide institutional subscriptions and give authors and publishers control over access to their works. Google will also fund a non-profit Books Rights Registry that will distribute payments, locate rights holders, maintain a database and keep track of whether publishers and authors want their works online or not. The potential revenue models include subscriptions, book sales and ad revenue.Google called the settlement a new chapter for its book search service:
With this agreement, in-copyright, out-of-print books will now be available for readers in the U.S. to search, preview and buy online -- something that was simply unavailable to date. Most of these books are difficult, if not impossible, to find. They are not sold through bookstores or held on most library shelves, yet they make up the vast majority of books in existence. Today, Google only shows snippets of text from the books where we don't have copyright holder permission. This agreement enables people to preview up to 20% of the book.
What makes this settlement so powerful is that in addition to being able to find and preview books more easily, users will also be able to read them. And when people read them, authors and publishers of in-copyright works will be compensated. If a reader in the U.S. finds an in-copyright book through Google Book Search, he or she will be able to pay to see the entire book online. Also, academic, library, corporate and government organizations will be able to purchase institutional subscriptions to make these books available to their members. For out-of-print books that in most cases do not have a commercial market, this opens a new revenue opportunity that didn't exist before.
If a right holder’s material has already been digitized by Google he can get a cash payment.