It’s been seven long years of laborious litigation since five publishing companies with the AAP (the Association of American Publishers) — giants like Simon & Schuster and McGraw-Hill among them — filed suit against Google in 2005. Back then, the complaint was the same as it is now: that Google is essentially profiting from the copyrighted work of many authors and publishers, and this this needs to be rectified.
Of course, a case like this is a sign of the times in an incredible way. As the digitization of information and the spreading of our ability to share and communicate with one another continues to spread and grow, it’s only a matter of time before it becomes nearly impossibly to monitor or control that flow of media and information.
For some time now, Google has been including scanned content from libraries across the country to fill out its Google Library project. Now, to be clear, Google has never been interested in putting full books online for people to read free of charge. While the Google Library project doesn’t cost anything for users to visit and peruse, it only offers what Google describes as being a couple of sentences’ worth of snippets so that potential readers can get a taste of what they can expect from a book.
This is still enough to irritate plenty of publishers, however, and they took their case to the courts all those years ago. Finally, however, there’s been a settlement reached. The details were announced last week, and the court isn’t required to approve it. It’s left up to the two parties, who have finally agreed upon a solution to the whole Google Libraries debacle, and the results will likely wind up being beneficial to both parties.
It’s now completely up to the individuals publishers what and how much of their content they want to make available to the public for Google Library. They’re also allowed to strike deals with Google, if they want, allowing their content to be seen in Google Library or sold in Google Books. If publishers want to remove their content samples, they’re more than welcome to, but they can also leave them up, if they want.
This is a great success for Google, who is poised to further expand its Google Books product and continue moving further into media distribution and digital retail. The Authors Guild still isn’t happy, however, insisting that the individual authors themselves still feel like Google is profiting off their work in a way that conflicts with the company’s official motto, which is “Don’t be evil.”
It remains to be seen whether or not the Authors Guild will be appeased, but Google’s settlement with the AAP is a significant bonus for them in terms of their goals with Google Books and the Google Library projects. Keep monitoring online news and business reviews for the most up-to-date information about the search giant, but their digital domination doesn’t look to be going anywhere anytime soon.