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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Google Pays $125 Million to Settle Copyright Lawsuits

Latest News

April 29, 2009: Justice Dept. Opens Antitrust Inquiry Into Google Books Deal

The inquiry does not necessarily mean that the department will oppose the settlement, which is subject to a court review. But it suggests that some of the concerns raised by critics, who say the settlement would unfairly give Google an exclusive license to profit from millions of books, have resonated with the Justice Department.

October 29, 2008: Google Settles Suit Over Book-Scanning by MIGUEL HELFT, New York Times

Google said Tuesday that it had agreed to pay $125 million to settle two copyright lawsuits brought by book authors and publishers over the company’s plan to digitize and show snippets of in-copyright books and to share digital copies with libraries without the explicit permission.

Well that has taken a long time! The lawsuits were originally launched in September and October 2005.

According to the NYT article, the money will be used for a book registry and to resolve existing claims. The settlement still has to be approved but if it goes ahead then, I think, it means all those books will be available online and the money just goes to settling claims.

The lawsuits were brought about because Google worked with libraries to scan millions of copyright and non-copyright books. The scanning became an issue for the copyright-protected material, in particular material that the publishers or authors did not want digitized and made available.

Background as per the NYT article:
The settlement agreement resolves a class-action suit filed on Sept. 20, 2005, by the Authors Guild and certain authors, and a suit filed on Oct. 19, 2005, by five major publisher-members of the Association of American Publishers: the McGraw-Hill Companies, Pearson Education, Penguin Group, John Wiley & Sons and Simon & Schuster. It is subject to approval by the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.

In the long run $125 million is probably worth it. Steep and dear now, but to have digitized and to have available for in perpetuity all that content ... woah!

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