Google has reached a landmark agreement with authors and publishers to make millions of books available online, in a deal that includes a $125m payout and the end to lawsuits filed by companies including Penguin.
The agreement, part of which is subject to the approval of the US District Court in New York, comes after two years of negotiations between the parties and will mark the end of two lawsuits against the Google Book Search tool.
Today’s agreement settles a class action lawsuit filed by the Authors Guild in September 2005 challenging Google’s plans to digitise, search and show snippets of in-copyright books and to share digital copies with libraries without explicit permission.
The deal today, described in a joint statement by all parties as “groundbreaking”, will see online access granted for millions of in-copyright materials “and other written materials” in the US through Google Book Search.
Under the agreement Google will make payments totalling $125m to be used to establish a Books Rights Registry, to resolve existing claims by authors and publishers and to cover legal fees.
“It is hard work writing a book and even harder work getting paid for it,” said Roy Blount Jr, the president of the Authors Guild. “As an author, well, we appreciate payment when people use our work. This makes good sense.”
Blount – and his peers – are dimwits who consider the direct payment of a few pennies of royalties from a search engine more important than demand generated by readers having easy access to his work. He’s almost as bright as the RIAA.