Google’s $125 million settlement with book publishers and authors may change the way people access books. But is it really a win-win for everyone?
As long as the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York approves the resolution with publishers—including Simon & Schuster, McGraw-Hill Cos., Pearson Education Inc. and Penguin Group, and John Wiley & Sons Inc.—Google will dispense payments totaling $125 million for the rights to make certain in- and out-of-copyright books available on the Internet, according to MarketWatch.
The publishing companies first sued Google in 2005, claiming that the Internet giant was breaking copyright law by scanning books and offering them online. Other companies, such as Microsoft, have also made books searchable online—although Microsoft has since halted the practice—but were careful to do so in a way that does not to violate copyright restrictions. Google, however, has defended its book project by arguing that it allows Internet users to view only parts of in-copyright books online, and not the books in their entirety, MarketWatch reports.
As part of the settlement, Google will not show any part of in-copyright books online that are not included under its new “partner program,” according to Google chief legal officer David Drummond.
At the same time, Drummond claims that the settlement will help to boost Google’s scanning of books, and allow it “to begin offering in-copyright, out-of-print books for preview and sale directly online,” MarketWatch writes. Google has already made more than 7 million books available to Internet users, and Drummond said, “We’re just getting started.”
The settlement also tasks Google with creating the Book Rights Registry, an independent nonprofit service meant to “resolve outstanding claims by authors and publishers and to cover legal fees from class-action lawsuits against Google,” The Daily Telegraph writes.
Of the $125 million, about $45 million will be dedicated to compensating authors whose work was made available on the Internet without their consent. The rest of the money is to go to the creation of the Book Rights Registry and to pay legal fees.
Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman copyright attorney Cydney A. Tune indicates that the settlement saved Google from losing a case that could have cost the company “$700 to as much as $150,000 per book,” according to Wired.