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Google settles with publishers after seven years of litigation surrounding its book-scanning service

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Google Books Devices
Google Books Devices

Google and the Association of American Publishers (AAP) have just announced a settlement following seven years of litigation in regards to a copyright infringement lawsuit. This civil suit claimed Google's digitizing of books as part of its Google Books service was a violation of copyrights, and today's new settlement will allow publishers to choose whether or not their books will be available in Google's service. Publishers who decide to leave their content in Google Books will receive a digital copy from the company to use or sell as they see fit. The settlement also allows for individual US publishers to make specific agreements with Google as both parties see fit.

In a statement, Google Senior VP David Drummond said, "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." The company says that its Google Books service currently "allows users to browse up to 20% of books and then purchase digital versions through Google Play," but the service has changed significantly over the years since it first launched way back in 2004. Originally, Google focused on scanning out-of-print books and books whose copyright had expired, but the company soon moved on to all books, raising the ire of book publishers (despite the fact that Google did place restrictions around copyrighted material and pointed searchers towards a place they could purchase the material).

This latest settlement ends a host of litigation around Google's service. In addition to this long-standing civil lawsuit, Google is also trying to wrap up a class-action lawsuit brought by the Authors Guild (also in the fall of 2005). Google noted in its press release that the settlement with the AAP has no effect on the ongoing suit with the Authors Guild — though perhaps with this settlement complete, Google can finally wrap up this other major Google Books lawsuit.