The settlement "shows that digital services can provide innovative means to discover content while still respecting the rights of copyright holders," Allen said.
Although the sparring over Google's effort to create the world's largest digital library appears to be over on one front, a lawsuit filed by the Authors Guild remains in the way of Google's ambitious plans to digitize more than 130 million of books sitting on library shelves around the world.
The authors' suit, which came before the publishers' complaint, raises thornier issues and threatens Google with a huge bill. The authors are seeking $750 in damages for every copyrighted book that Google has scanned over the past eight years.
Despite the lawsuits, Google has made digital copies of more than 20 million books so far. The copyrights on many of those books have already expired, making them fair game and not part of any infringement damages that might be awarded. Even if just one-quarter of the books scanned so far by Google are protected by copyrights, the company would be liable for nearly $4 billion if a court sides with the authors.
"The publishers' private settlement, whatever its terms, does not resolve the authors' copyright infringement claims against Google," the Authors Guild said in a statement Thursday. "Google continues to profit from its use of millions of copyright-protected books without regard to authors' rights, and our class-action lawsuit on behalf of U.S. authors continues."
In an interview, Authors Guild lawyer Michael Boni said the publishers agreement made him "cautiously optimistic" that a settlement of his case could be reached before it goes to trial.
But he also stressed the authors' issues are much different than the publishers' concerns. "We're really on a separate motor at this point," Boni said.
Google declined to comment Thursday on the legal dispute with the authors.
In May, U.S. District Judge Denny Chin in New York granted the authors' lawsuit class certification, meaning the case would cover all authors, even if they are too small to hire their own lawyers to sue Google. Chin also rejected Google's attempt to get the case thrown out.
The authors' suit is in a holding pattern until an appeals court rules on Google's attempt to strip the authors of their status as a united class.