Authors, publishers and Google agree on copyright

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The Authors Guild, the Association of American Publishers (AAP), and Google have announced what they describe as a 'groundbreaking' settlement on behalf of authors and publishers worldwide. The agreement acknowledges the rights and interests of copyright owners, provides an efficient means for them to control how their intellectual property is accessed online and enables them to receive compensation for online access to their works.

This agreement, reached after two years of negotiations, should expand online access to millions of in-copyright books and other written materials in the USA from the collections of a number of major US libraries participating in Google Book Search. It would also resolve a class-action lawsuit brought by book authors and the Authors Guild, as well as a separate lawsuit filed by five large publishers as representatives of the AAP’s membership.

Under the agreement, Google will make payments totaling $125 million. The money will be used to establish the Book Rights Registry, to resolve existing claims by authors and publishers and to cover legal fees. Holders worldwide of US copyrights can register their works with the Book Rights Registry and receive compensation from institutional subscriptions, book sales, ad revenues and other possible revenue models, as well as a cash payment if their works have already been digitised

If approved by the court, the agreement should provide more access to out-of-print books and additional ways to purchase copyrighted books as well as compensation to authors and publishers and control over access to their works. It also promises institutional subscriptions to millions of books online and free access from US libraries.

'This historic settlement is a win for everyone,' said Richard Sarnoff, AAP chairman. 'From our perspective, the agreement creates an innovative framework for the use of copyrighted material in a rapidly digitising world, serves readers by enabling broader access to a huge trove of hard-to-find books,and benefits the publishing community by establishing an attractive commercial model that offers both control and choice to the rightsholder.'