Yesterday Google and the Association of American Publishers
(AAP) announced that they have settled the litigation filed in 2005
by the AAP challenging the Google Books Library Project. As
previously reported, Google is involved in an ambitious project
to digitize the contents of a number of the world's largest
libraries and to make that content available online. The Google Books
site provides excerpts of books, which Google calls
"snippets," for free; in cases where Google has the
necessary rights, users can purchase complete copies of books
through the new "Google Play" store. Not
surprisingly, this plan has caused concern among various
stakeholders and copyright owners, and Google has for several years
been defending litigation filed by the AAP, the Author's Guild,
photographers and visual artists, and a number of
While the full terms of the AAP settlement are confidential, the
parties announced that the settlement will allow publishers to
choose whether their books will appear in Google Books. If
publishers opt in, their books will also be available for sale
through Google Play.
Importantly, the settlement of the AAP litigation does not
resolve the separate lawsuits filed by authors and other content
creators, which are still pending in the Southern District of New
York. Judge Denny Chin, who was elevated to the Second
Circuit while those cases have been pending, is still presiding
over them by designation. As we
reported last year, he rejected a settlement arrangement
proposed by the parties out of concerns about its opt-out structure
and its unsatisfactory treatment of the "orphan works"
problem. In May of this year, Judge Chin certified the
plaintiffs' class, and over the summer both sides filed motions
for summary judgment. However, further proceedings have
recently been stayed while Google pursues an appeal to the Second
Circuit of the class certification order.
While the AAP settlement has removed one obstacle to
Google's stated mission to "organize the world's
information and make it universally accessible and useful,"
the battle over Google Books and its far-reaching copyright
implications is far from over. Stay tuned for future
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