After seven long years of litigation, Google Inc. and the Association of American Publishers have reached an agreement to settle over the search giant’s book-scanning project, which will allow publishers to choose whether or not they want their books, journals and publications digitized by Google and accessed via its Google Library Project.

The original lawsuit was filed against Google back in October 2005 by five members of the AAP. Since the settlement was reached between the two companies, the court will not need to intervene to approve the agreement terms.

“We are pleased that this settlement addresses the issues that led to the litigation,” said AAP president and CEO Tom Allen in a joint statement with Google released Thursday. “It shows that digital services can provide innovative means to discover content while still respecting the rights of copyright-holders.”

The agreement, according to the two companies, acknowledges the rights and interests of copyright holders, so US publishers can choose to remove their books and journals digitized by Google for its Library Project, or choose to keep their publications available. For those that keep their works online with Google, those publishers will be able to keep a digital copy for their own use.

Beyond the settlement, US publishers still have the option to make individual agreements with Google to use their digitally-scanned works. If they allowed their publications to be scanned by Google for the Library Project, they can now sell their books via Google Play. Users can browse up to 20 percent of the book before choosing to purchase the digital version over Google’s marketplace.

“Google is a company that puts innovation front and center with all that it does,” said David Drummond, Google’s chief legal officer and senior VP of corporate development. “By putting this litigation with the publishers behind us, we can stay focused on our core mission and work to increase the number of books available to educate, excite and entertain our users via Google Play.”

The new settlement, which affects publisher plaintiffs McGraw-Hill, Pearson Education, John Wiley & Sons, Simon & Schuster and Penguin Group (USA), does not affect Google’s ongoing litigation with the Authors Guild or address any of the questions of that particular lawsuit. In that case, which was granted a stay in September by the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, the court is still reviewing a judge decision to grant class-action status to the authors.