Page last updated at 15:02 GMT, Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Google strikes book search deal

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The deal could see online versions of most of the world's libraries

Google's reach into the world's libraries looks more assured following a deal struck today.

The agreement with the Authors Guild and Association of American Publishers will resolve a number of lawsuits from the last three years.

Google will establish a non-profit Book Rights Registry to ensure copyrighted works receive compensation via subscription services or ad revenue.

The registry and settlements will cost Google $125m (80m).

However, the deal still needs approval from a US district court to resolve the pending lawsuits.

If approved, the agreement will provide much wider access to out-of-print books and a great many in-print, in-copyright works.

'Good sense'

The scheme will also set up subscription services for institutions such as universities to have full access to the online collections of libraries worldwide, with free access provided at US public and university libraries.

A number of American university libraries have participated in brokering the deal, and it is widely expected that more libraries will soon join the effort.

Web users will be able to establish an "online bookshelf" with the opportunity to buy lifetime rights to read and print scanned books searched through Google.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuits benefit because the agreement will provide more ways to purchase books that are still in copyright, as well as provide revenue from the subscriptions or advertising.

"As a reader and researcher, I'll be delighted to stop by my local library to browse the stacks of some of the world's great libraries," said Roy Blount Jr., president of the Authors Guild.

"As an author, well, we appreciate payment when people use our work. This deal makes good sense."

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