Some of you may know that the Authors Guild filed a class-action suit against Google in September 2005 after Google started scanning millions of books and offering the texts online. Some of the works were in the public domain, but many were still under copyright protection. (Google did not seek to secure reprint or electronic-distribution permissions.)
Today, the two sides have announced a settlement deal ($125 million) that will pay a small fee (up to $60 for an individual book) to publishers and authors whose copyrighted works have been scanned without permission. The possibility of future payments exists too.
Today's email from AG president Roy Blount Jr. says "Far more interesting for most of us — and the ambitious part of our proposal — is the prospect for future revenues. Rightsholders will receive a share of revenues from institutional subscriptions to the collection of books made available through Google Book Search under the settlement, as well as from sales of online consumer access to the books. They will also be paid for printouts at public libraries, as well as for other uses."
The settlement also means that readers can still get online access to gazillions of printed works — so this settlement is a win-win for everyone.