Ever since Google began scanning printed books four years ago, scholars and others with specialized interests have been able to tap a trove of information that had been locked away on the dusty shelves of libraries and in antiquarian bookstores. Soon, a settlement announced in October with authors and publishers who had brought copyright lawsuits against Google will make it possible for users to read a far greater collection of books, including many still under copyright protection, reports the New York Times. The agreement, pending approval by a judge this year, also paved the way for both sides to make profits from digital versions of books. Just what kind of commercial opportunity the settlement represents is unknown, but few expect it to generate significant profits for any individual author. Even Google does not necessarily expect the book program to contribute significantly to its bottom line. "We did not think necessarily we could make money," said Sergey Brin, a Google founder and its president of technology, in a brief interview at the company’s headquarters. "We just feel this is part of our core mission. There is fantastic information in books. Often when I do a search, what is in a book is miles ahead of what I find on a web site." According to Dan Clancy, the engineering director for Google’s book-search feature, every month users view at least 10 pages of more than half of the one million out-of-copyright books that Google has scanned into its servers. The settlement also could give new life to copyrighted out-of-print books in a digital form and could allow writers to make money from titles that had been out of commercial circulation for years. Of the seven million books Google has scanned so far, about five million are in this category…

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