October 5, 2012, 5:03 PM

Google eyes more e-book sales

After settling a legal case, it will push sales of electronic books via Google Play.

Paul Demery

Managing Editor, B2B E-commerce

Lead Photo

Google Inc. has reached a legal settlement with publishers over its program of digitizing copyrighted books, providing it with an opening to sell more digital books through its Google Play online store, the company says.

“By putting this litigation with the publishers behind us, we can stay focused on our core mission and work to increase the number of books available to educate, excite and entertain our users via Google Play,” David Drummon, Google’s senior vice president of corporate development and chief legal officer, said in a statement released yesterday by Google and the Association of American Publishers.

A Google spokeswoman adds that Google expects the settlement to lead to more digital books available for viewing and for sale online. Google lets consumers searching for books through its Google Books site to read up to 20% of a chosen book; to make a purchase, they can then click to Google Play to purchase a digital book that can be read on the web or via mobile devices.

Google still faces a lawsuit by authors who complain the search engine is infringing their copyrights.

This week’s agreement settles a copyright infringement lawsuit filed against Google in 2005 by five publishers: McGraw-Hill Companies Inc., John Wiley & Sons Inc., Simon & Schuster Inc., Pearson plc’s Pearson Education Inc. and Penguin Group. The publishers had sought to prevent Google from digitizing copyrighted books and journals for its Google Library Project. A call to the Association of American Publishers, which announced the settlement with Google this week, was not immediately returned.

As part of its Google Books Library Project, Google has been working with several major libraries to scan all available books, including many that are no longer being printed but remain under copyright protection, or “in-copyright,” by publishers. In the legal case, the publishers contended that Google didn’t have the right to scan such books and make them available for public viewing on the Internet, even though Google said it made available for public viewing only a “snippet” of the books,  such as one or two pages of text plus the table of contents.

Under the terms of the settlement, the publishers can choose to have in-copyright books either included in or removed from the Google Books Library Project. In addition, Google has agreed to provide complete digital copies of scanned books to publishers who agree to keep such books in the project.

The settlement is not related to a separate copyright infringement court case filed against Google by the Authors Guild, which has filed a class-action suit against the Internet search company. “The publishers’ private settlement, whatever its terms, does not resolve the authors’ copyright infringement claims against Google,” Authors Guild executive director Paul Aiken said in a statement. “Google continues to profit from its use of millions of copyright-protected books without regard to authors’ rights, and our class-action lawsuit on behalf of U.S. authors continues.”

Google did not comment today on the Author’s Guild case.

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