Google and the Association of American Publishers Come to An Agreement: To Digitize is a Choice


After seven years of litigation, Google and the Association of American Publishers have come to a private settlement which ends their dispute over digitized books being used in the Google Library Project. In 2005, the group of publishers filed a copyright infringement action against Google.[1. Authors Guild v. Google, Inc., 282 F.R.D. 384 (S.D.N.Y. 2012).]  The Google Library Project was established with the goal to digitize books and provided users with an excerpt of the work. The dispute is whether or not Google had the right to do so. Quickly, authors and publishers argued that this digitization by Google constituted as copyright infringement.[2.  Mathew Ingram, A Google Book Deal Is Good for Everyone – Except Maybe Amazon, (Oct. 8, 2012).]

This settlement allows publishers to choose if they would like their copyright protected, out-of-print books to participate in the Google Library Project. However, the settlement does not answer the main issue of copyright infringement. “Though the settlement will not change much about the way that Google and publishers already partner, it is the newest signpost for defining copyright in the Internet age. It is also the latest evidence of the shift to e-books from print, and of Google’s efforts to compete with e-book rivals like”[3. Claire Cain Miller, Google Deals Gives Publishers a Choice: Digitize or Not, (Oct. 4, 2012).] Under the settlement, users can read up to 20% of a digitized book, and allows Google a share of the publisher’s revenue when a book has been purchased through the Google Play store.[4. Id.]

The settlement seems like a win-win for the parties involved, including the users. Publishers now can receive revenue on out-of-print books that they otherwise would have stopped pursuing profits for, while Google expands their library. Users now have the benefit of reading these out-of-print books which would have never been made into an e-book if it weren’t for the Google Library Project. The Associate of American Publishers are pleased with the settlement as it “acknowledges the rights and interest of copyright holders and publishers, and whether they’re going to make their rights available.”[5. Id.]  This private settlement, which is not subject to a court’s approval, does not answer the claims against Google in regard to copyright infringement. The class-action lawsuit continues on behalf of U.S. authors, and remains in litigation at this time.

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