Google Pays $125M For Copyright Infringement

Dennis Faas's picture

Not long ago, Google agreed to pay $125 million to the book industry to settle claims of copyright infringement over its BookSearch scheme. The agreement means Google can now legally scan copyrighted books and put them online as long as they are no longer in print.

The cash will go towards setting up a registry of books involved, compensating authors and publishers affected by Google's violations, and paying the legal fees of the case. The agreement will have to get the backing of a New York court (where the case was brought) before it takes effect. (Source:

The case involved a scheme in which Google scanned pages from books and included the text as part of its search index. The dispute was mainly about whether Google could only include short extracts of text in its results (which is generally accepted as legitimate) or could reproduce entire pages (which the book industry said violated copyright).

The deal means Google now has permission to show full page scans in its results for books where the publishers agree to be included. However, with books that are still in print, it can only let users see 20% of the pages in any one book. With books where publishers don't take part in the scheme, Google can mention the book in its results but can't show any of the text. The deal also only applies to the US, meaning users in other countries can only see short extracts of any copyrighted book.

As well as settling the legal dispute, the two sides have agreed a business deal. Publishers can give permission for Google to charge users to see the full text of a book and set up subscription deals for libraries or universities to provide unlimited access to such books. Google will take 37% of the revenues with publishers getting the rest, along with a cut of any ad revenue produced from the page. (Source:

It's worth noting that, because the agreement came outside a courtroom, it doesn't have any legal bearing on ongoing question of whether Google's past actions were legal or not; the two sides continue to disagree on that point.

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