Book sellers may want to consider calling off the lawyers.
Six years ago, Google announced its intention to start digitizing the books sitting in the libraries of a few major universities and public libraries. Less than a year later, the company was sued by publishers who allege the company was infringing on their copyrights and hurting business. The project continued and expanded and Google's collection now contains millions of books, but if a recent study is right the search giant has only helped those allegedly aggrieved publishers.
Hannibal Travis, a professor at the Florida International University College of Law, estimated the economic impact Google's Book Search had on publishers in a paper published recently in the "Journal of the Copyright Society of the USA." The companies he looked at were the four that together sued (pdf) Google in 2005: McGraw-Hill, Penguin, Simon & Schuster, and John Wiley & Sons.
Travis compared the trajectory of their profits from 2001 to 2004, the three years before the project began, to their profits from 2005 to 2008, the three years after it began. He found that the rate of profit growth accelerated after the introduction of Google Books. And that rate was greater than the growth of retail sales or the U.S. economy, according to Travis' paper.