It took Google four years to settle a long-standing copyright lawsuit filed against its Book Search Project by the Association of American Publishers and the Authors Guild. Since its inception four years ago, Google stuggled to make a headway with the project, skipping most of the in-copyright books and published materials although not totally abandoning them at all.
Under the Google Book Search Project, Google was aiming to scan book publications and make them searchable through Google Book Search, providing full-text access to those whose copyright have already gone to the public domain. For those still under the in-copyright state, Google nonetheless made them available through the Book Search but without full-text access. Although there were some American publishers who supported this project, the number of those who opposed it was so overwhelming that it hampered the success of the Google Book Search Project.
Thankfully, the lawsuit was finally settled. Essentially, what the parties have agreed upon is to allow Google to make in-copyright, out-out-print books available on Google Book Search, for previewing and if the readers would want to, enable them to purchase the book online. Whereas previously, those books which have copyright restrictions can only be previewed partially, the new agreement dictates that they can now be read online. What made this amenable to copyright holders is the promised that they would be compensated everytime their books are read online. In addition, academic, library, corporate and government organization can opt to purchase the books on an institutional subscription basis, to enable members of their organizations to have access to those books.
This agreement may sound interesting, but I just wonder how Google is going to compensate copyright owners whenever their books are read? I can only think of one thing. Google Adsense running side by side copies of books being previewed online. And to quote a Google statement saying “this opens a new revenue opportunity that didn’t exist before”. Exactly what that revenue opportunity is, all directions points towards paid search ads running on Google Book Search preview.