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October 04, 2012

Google and the Association of American Publishers End Seven-Year Battle

By Brittany Walters-Bearden, TMCnet Contributor

Google (News - Alert) and the Association of American Publishers have been in a seven-year litigation battle over the books that Google has made publically available through its Library Project. Publishers and authors alike have taken offense to the fact that Google has scanned millions of copyrighted books and did not ask for permission from those who held the copyrights before doing so.

According to Google, the estimated 15 million scanned books were made available in order to provide easier access to the world’s knowledge. The scanned copies made about 20 percent of the books available and then offered users the option to purchase the remainder of the book through Google Play.

Image via Shutterstock

Despite the fact that Google was trying to encourage sales in an innovative way, catering to a society that has largely becoming accustomed to trying before buying, whether it is an app, an excerpt of a book, or a website theme, the publishing companies were less-than-happy about Google’s decision to include them. Publishers were already dealing with major obstacles like digital books and an influx of indie authors and publishers into the market, which has broken down the traditional gatekeeper status that they once held. The publishers who filed the lawsuit included publishing giants McGraw-Hill Companies Inc., Penguin Group USA, Simon & Schuster, Pearson Education Inc., and John Wiley & Sons (News - Alert).

In what appears to be an amicable agreement, not punishing either party, it has been decided that U.S. publishers can choose to either remove their books and journals that were included in the Google Library project, or they can also choose to make their books and journals available through the project.

Speaking on behalf of the Association of American Publishers, chief executive Tom Allen said, “The digital market had changed significantly, and our publishers have ongoing retail relationships with Google. Working out the differences made sense for us, Google, and the public.” 

Although Google’s woes with the Association of American Publishers may be over, their days of drama with the publishing world are not over: they have ongoing litigation with the Authors Guild.

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Edited by Brooke Neuman
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