Google Closes the Book On Major Copyright Case

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Google Closes the Book On Major Copyright Case

Wed Oct 29, 2008 @ 12:54AM PST

By Eriq Gardner

Google_logoGoogle has put one of its largest copyright lawsuits in the history books by agreeing upon a $125 million settlement with book authors.

The Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers have announced they have agreed to settle a 2005 case against Google that alleged the company violated copyright by scanning books from several libraries into a digital database called Google Book Search. Google will make a large payment to the groups, and if accepted by a federal judge, authors will be able to claim a share of at least $45 million in proceeds. (Presumably, the lawyers in the case will be collecting a nice contingency fee.)

But there's more:

More interestingly, the deal sets up a new royalty program. In a statement, Authors Guild president Roy Blount Jr. announced that rightsholders will now receive a share of revenues from institutional subscriptions to the collection of books made available through Google's service.

"The payments will flow through the Book Rights Registry, a new independent entity that can be thought of as the writers' equivalent of ASCAP," says Blount. "The Registry will be controlled by a board of authors and publishers; as part of the settlement, Google will pay $34.5 million to get the Registry up and running, notify rightsholders of the settlement, and process claims."

The Authors Guild says that class members in the lawsuit are free to "opt out" of the settlement. Presumably they'll still also be able to "opt out" of the new Google Book Search engine, though when Google first proposed this settlement three years ago, authors weren't the least bit interested.

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The Hollywood Reporter, Esq. blog focuses on how the entertainment and media industries are impacted and influenced by the law. It is edited by Matthew Belloni with contributions from veteran legal reporter Eriq Gardner and others. Before joining The Hollywood Reporter, Belloni was a lawyer at an entertainment litigation firm in Los Angeles. He writes a column for THR devoted to entertainment law. Gardner is a New York-based writer and legal journalist. Send tips or comments to Matthew.Belloni@thr.com

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