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Google reaches $125 million settlement with authors

Settlement with the Authors Guild and a group of publishers enables authors and publishers to receive compensation for online access to their works.

Stephanie Condon Staff writer, CBSNews.com
Stephanie Condon is a political reporter for CBSNews.com.
Stephanie Condon
2 min read

Updated at 11:15 a.m. PDT to include new information.

Google will be paying authors and publishers $125 million as part of a settlement agreement that resolves a suit against its Google Book Search initiative, the Authors Guild and a group of publishers announced Tuesday.

The settlement enables authors and publishers to receive compensation for online access to their works.

Paul Aiken, executive director of the Authors Guild, called the settlement "the biggest book deal in U.S. publishing history."

Google is digitizing the works from many major libraries, including the New York Public Library and the libraries at Stanford and Harvard universities, and is making those texts searchable on pages with advertisements. The Authors Guild, which represents more than 8,000 authors, sued Google in September 2005, alleging that the company's digitizing initiative amounted to "massive" copyright infringement. Five large publishers filed a separate lawsuit as representatives of the Association of American Publishers.

Under the terms of the settlement, Google has agreed to pay the authors and publishers $125 million. It will also be responsible for selling access to copyrighted works in its repository. Most of the revenues from such access would go to the authors and publishers.

Currently, users of Google Book Search are able to view snippets of books online. The settlement agreement allows Google to make whole pages of copyright works available to online searchers. Users will be able to preview up to 20 percent of a book and purchase the book if they choose to, said David Drummond, senior vice president of corporate development and chief legal officer for Google.

All public libraries in the United States will be offered a free online portal to Google's digitized collection, said Aiken, and patrons will be able to print an unlimited number of pages for a per page fee. Google will also be offering institutional subscriptions to colleges and universities. Google Book Search services available outside the United States will remain the same, Drummond said.