On October 28, 2008, after several years of legal wrangling, Google, the Association of American Publishers (AAP), and the Authors Guild reached a settlement agreement concerning Google’s scanning of copyrighted works. The scanning of these works has been done in cooperation with research libraries throughout the United States. The settlement agreement requires court approval by the presiding judge in the U.S. District Court in New York because the case was brought as a class action suit on behalf of selected copyright owners.
In large part, the settlement focuses on in-copyright books that are not commercially available. Public domain works fall outside of the settlement and owners of commercially available, in-copyright books created prior to January 5, 2009, may opt-out of the settlement or opt-in to other terms with Google. As a part of the settlement agreement, Google will fund the establishment of the Book Rights Registry. The Registry, jointly run by authors and publishers, will collect and distribute royalties including an up-front payment by Google of $45 million. Users will have several new opportunities to access scanned books, both free and fee-based, via public and university libraries and through institutional subscriptions for academic, corporate, and government libraries and organizations.