Google reaches agreement with publishers group in digital books case

Google has reached an agreement with the Association of American Publishers in a copyright infringement lawsuit over the digitisation of books and journals for Google’s Library Project, the company has said.

Under the out-of-court settlement, US publishers will be able to decide whether or not to allow their books, articles, and other content to be made available on the Web. Publishers will also be able to request the removal of texts that have already been scanned to the online library.

“We are pleased that this settlement addresses the issues that led to the litigation,” said Tom Allen, chief executive officer of the publisher’s group.

“It shows that digital services can provide innovative means to discover content while still respecting the rights of copyright-holders,” Allen added.

The plan to build a digital library of books on shelves in public and academic libraries was announced in 2004, but was met with much resistance from the publishing world. The Association of American Publishers filed its infringement case against the search giant in 2005, with the Authors Guild, independent publishers and individual authors, photographers and graphic artists following suit with litigation of their own.

The agreement does not apply to an ongoing class action lawsuit brought by the Authors Guild, which alleges that Google scanned books and articles without permission from copyright holders.

Earlier this year, Google said it had scanned more than 20 million books as a part of its digitisation effort, with more than four million English language excerpts available to the public.

In June, the company reached an agreement with French publishers to make out-of-print books available as a part of the Google Library Project.