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Publishers Group Drops Copyright Claim against Google

Written by Gene Quinn
Patent Attorney & Founder of IPWatchdog, Inc.
Principal Lecturer, PLI Patent Bar Review Course
Posted: October 4, 2012 @ 3:30 pm

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The Association of American Publishers (AAP) and Google announced earlier today that the parties had reached a settlement agreement in the ongoing copyright infringement lawsuit that pits content creators against Google.  This copyright dispute started between Google and various content creators as the result of Google’s efforts to digitize books for distribution on the Internet without first obtaining copyright permission.  According to AAP and Google, the settlement will provide access to AAP in-copyright books and journals digitized by Google for its Google Library Project.  The dismissal of the lawsuit will end seven years of litigation, at least between these parties.

The Authors Guild, however, has not given up the fight and will continue to move forward against Google.

“The publishers’ private settlement, whatever its terms, does not resolve the authors’ copyright infringement claims against Google,” Authors Guild executive director Paul Aiken said in a statement. “Google continues to profit from its use of millions of copyright-protected books without regard to authors’ rights, and our class-action lawsuit on behalf of U.S. authors continues.”

The agreement between AAP and Google settles a copyright infringement lawsuit filed against Google on October 19, 2005 by AAP member publishers (The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.; Pearson Education, Inc., Penguin Group (USA) Inc., and Simon & Schuster, Inc.).  As the settlement is between only the AAP and Google, it does not affect Google’s current litigation with the Authors Guild or otherwise address the underlying questions in that suit. According to the press release issued by AAP and Google, court approval of the settlement will not be necessary.

Little information was actually made available relative to the settlement, although the press release did offer the unsupported conclusion that “settlement acknowledges the rights and interests of copyright-holders.”  What we did learn substantively about the terms of the settlement include:

  • US publishers can choose to make available or choose to remove their books and journals digitized by Google for its Library Project.
  • Those deciding not to remove their works will have the option to receive a digital copy for their use.
  • US publishers can continue to make individual agreements with Google for use of their other digitally-scanned works.

Further terms of the agreement are confidential.

“We are pleased that this settlement addresses the issues that led to the litigation,” said Tom Allen, President and CEO of AAP.  “It shows that digital services can provide innovative means to discover content while still respecting the rights of copyright-holders.”

“Google is a company that puts innovation front and center with all that it does,” said David Drummond, Senior Vice President, Corporate Development and Chief Legal Officer, Google.  “By putting this litigation with the publishers behind us, we can stay focused on our core mission and work to increase the number of books available to educate, excite and entertain our users via Google Play.”

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EDITOR’S NOTE: The author of this article, Gene Quinn, is an Associate Member of The Authors Guild.


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Posted in: Companies We Follow, Copyright, Gene Quinn, Google, IP News, Articles

About the Author

is a Patent Attorney and the founder of the popular blog, which has for three of the last four years (i.e., 2010, 2012 and 2103) been recognized as the top intellectual property blog by the American Bar Association. He is also a principal lecturer in the PLI Patent Bar Review Course. As an electrical engineer with a computer engineering focus his specialty is electronic and computer devices, Internet applications, software and business methods.


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