Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Rumors that Google and publishers may settle

Andrew Albanese reports in Library Journal, October 10, 2008, that Google and a group of publishers may be close to settling the publishers' lawsuit against the Google Library Project.  Excerpt:

Nearly three years after its initial filing, it appears a settlement may finally be near in publishers’ lawsuit over Google’s controversial program to scan books from library shelves. Although rumors of a settlement have flared up and died down intermittently over the years, sources wishing to remain anonymous this week told the LJ Academic Newswire and Publishers Weekly that talk of a final agreement has indeed heated up, with one publishing insider confirming that a settlement was “imminent,” although no solid time frame was known....

A settlement has long-been expected, as it would avoid what is setting up to be a messy trial. Industry-watchers have predicted the two parties eventually would reach some kind of blanket license agreement, noting that avoiding a court decision involving murky copyright and fair use boundaries is the logical, least risky—and least costly—option for both parties.

From the start, publishers have maintained that the wholesale scanning of copyrighted books from libraries is an unreasonable expansion of fair use, and that Google is creating a valuable asset without compensating rightsholders. Google has countered that its plan, which makes only “snippets” of copyright-protected books viewable online, is fair use, and that publishers, can also “opt out” of having their books scanned....

[T]he AAP suit, filed in October 2005 on behalf of McGraw-Hill, Pearson Education, the Penguin Group, Simon & Schuster, and John Wiley & Sons, does not seek damages. It seeks an injunction that would essentially declare that Google’s scanning of an entire book still under copyright without permission is infringement....

PS:  For background see our many past posts on this lawsuit and my 2005 article, Does Google Library violate copyright?