Google agrees $125m settlement with authors and publishers

Google is to pay $125m (£76.6m) to settle lawsuits in the US by authors and publishers over the internet giant's book-scanning project. The settlement ...

Google is to pay $125m (£76.6m) to settle lawsuits in the US by authors and publishers over the internet giant's book-scanning project.

The settlement provides a framework for Google to digitise millions of books under US copyright and enable users to search text, read excerpts and buy online access to them.

The Author's Guild had accused Google of "a plain and brazen violation of copyright law", after striking deals with major US university libraries to scan and copy millions of books in their collections.

The Guild, some authors and five members of the Association of American Publishers launched lawsuits against Google in 2005.

The parties have been negotiating a deal for more than two years, and the settlement still needs the approval of a federal judge in the US. Roy Blount, the guild's president, said that the agreement meant at least $45m (£27.5m) for authors and publishers whose in-copyright books and other copyrighted texts have been scanned without permission.

"Far more interesting for most of us - and the ambitious part of our proposal - is the prospect for future revenues. Rights-holders will receive a share of revenues from institutional subscriptions to the collection of books made available through Google Book Search under the settlement, as well as from sales of online consumer access to the books. They will also be paid for printouts at public libraries, as well as for other uses."

Google said in an agreed statement, "Users in the United States will be able to enjoy and purchase the products and services offered under the project. Outside the United States, the users' experience with Google Book Search will be unchanged, unless the offering of such products and services is authorised by the rights-holder of a book."

Sergey Brin, co-founder and president of technology at Google, said, "Google's mission is to organise the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful. Today, together with the authors, publishers we have been able to make a great leap in this endeavour."

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