Google yesterday announced that the company has released more than one million out of copyright, public domain books in the EPUB format. Google Books titles are already available in PDF form but the addition of EPUB means it'll be easier for users to read downloaded Google Books content on various different devices that support the format.
The announcement comes at a time when Google Books is facing investigations from both the Department of Justice and the European Union with regard to a deal made with the Authors Guild last October. A June report in the NYT says the inquiry is a result of complaints made by concerned critics who say the settlement would give Google an exclusive license to profit from millions of books.
The Authors Guild took legal action against the search giant after Google struck deals with major university libraries to scan and copy millions of books in their collections. While many of these were older books in the public domain, millions of others were still under copyright protection and the Guild said Google's scanning was “a plain and brazen violation of copyright law.” The Mountain View company maintained that the digitizing of these books represented a “fair use” of the material, however the two agreed to settle in a $125 million agreement. Google's $125 million was to go toward legal fees, establishing Book Rights Registry and at least 45 million for authors and publishers whose in-copyright books and other copyrighted texts had been scanned without permission.
Legal issues aside, anyone plan on downloading some of the EPUB content? Sony's latest ereader supports the format, which will likely make it an attractive option to those shopping around for a device to read all these Google Books on. Let us know what you think in the comments below!