Google Settles Lawsuit with Book Publishers

October 28th, 2008 at 12:00 am

google book search

We covered Google Book Search when they launched  their embeddable previews last month.  Apparently Google has been slapped with a class action lawsuit from book publishers and the Authors Guild as well as five major book publishers on behalf of the Association of American Publishers.

Now, Google has settled the suit and reached an agreement that acknowledges copyright holders and gives them control and compensation over the indexed content from Google.  In return, Google can continue their Book Search project.

The terms of the agreement are pending approval and Google and the publishers are just awaiting court approvals.  The terms are made up of five major points that Google should provide:

  • More access to out-of-print and hard to find books.
  • Additional ways to purchase copyrighted books and materials.
  • A means for educational institutions such as colleges and universities to subscribe to entire collections.
  • Free access from US libraries.
  • Compensation and control for authors and publishers.

The final point is the most interesting part since the first four should actually really come with the copyright.  However, since compensation deals with money and publishers want a reasonable slice of what Google will be making by using their content, terms and conditions are under review and are awaiting a court ruling that will properly compensate publishers and authors for their intellectual properties. 

In the terms of the deal, Google will distribute payments earned from online access to the rights holders.  The rates and allocation of these payments will be done by an independent third party non-profit Book Rights Registry.  This will cost Google about $125 million, since they will bear the burden of setting  up the registry and settle current disputes.

So is this all good?  Well if you’re an advocate anti-piracy and intellectual property rights this is all good.  However, with all the fees Google will be paying to maintain the Book Search project, it may trickle down to the consumer and wipe out the free previews to books.  We just hope that the ad support can compensate the publishers.