After seven years of litigation, Google and book publishers said on Thursday that they had reached a settlement to allow publishers to choose whether Google digitises their books and journals.
It was a small step forward for Google’s plan to digitise every book and make them readable and searchable online, known as the Google Library Project, but it did not resolve the much bigger issue standing in Google’s way — litigation between Google and authors.
Though the settlement will not change much about the way that Google and publishers already partner, it is the newest signpost for defining copyright in the Internet age. It is also the latest evidence of the shift to e-books from print, and of Google’s efforts to compete with e-book rivals like Amazon.com.
Digital books were a new and daunting prospect when the publishers first sued Google seven years ago, but they have now become commonplace.“They had this lawsuit hanging around for years, and basically the publishers have all moved on,” said James Grimmelmann, a professor at New York Law School who has closely followed the case. “They are selling digitally now. That’s the future. This just memorialises the transition.” NYT