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Google and publishers reach settlement on digitized books case

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Ben Margot/AP

(Read caption) Internet Archive founder Brewster Kahle digitally scans a book. Google has scanned 20 million books for its Google Library Project.

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After seven years of litigation, Google and the American Association of Publishers (AAP) announced Thursday that they had reached a settlement in the Google Books scanning case. But the settlement leaves a key issue on the table and does little to resolve a higher-stakes suit against Google filed by individual authors.

The settlement with publishers allows publishers to decide whether Google can digitize their books or not. Publishers can “choose to make available or choose to remove their books and journals digitized by Google for its Library Project,” the AAP said in a statement.

Though this changes little in the way Google and publishers already partner – Google had already scanned some 20 million books for its Google Library Project – it does illustrate how far publishing has come in the Digital Age.

“Basically when the case was filed seven years ago, that was a long time ago, and the world has changed a lot,” AAP president Tom Allen told Publishers Weekly.

“Digital books were a new and daunting prospect when the publishers first sued Google seven years ago, but they have now become commonplace,” The New York Times reported in its announcement of the settlement.

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