March 16-23, 2006 Edition

Google Woos Publishers

to Grant Pay-Per-View

to Entire Books Online

NEW YORK, NY/3/14/06—In an apparent effort to placate publishers who are suing the company for copyright infringement-search giant Google is now courting publishers to allow it to sell total access to copyrighted titles through Google’s Google Books Partner Program. Until now, Google Book Search has offered free access to snippets of copyrighted books, but the latest move would allow users to view an entire book by clicking links to outside bookseller or library catalogues.

Google, embroiled in publishers’ lawsuits over its plans to digitize the world’s largest library collections (including copyrighted material), now says it wants to help book publishers boost their revenues.

Already, several major publishers have made moves to license online resellers to sell downloads of copyrighted materials online. Random House, the world’s largest publisher of trade books, for example, has launched a plan allowing people to pay-per-view of its books on the Internet, and has launched its new Amazon Pages program, offering full-title access.

The Google Books Partner Program is developing tools for publishers “to experiment with new and innovative ways to increase book revenue.” The first of these tools allows publishers to set the price for their books and have users discover them through Google Book Search. Books are only available to users once they sign in to their personal accounts and are only available through their browsers. Users will not be able to save a copy to their computer or copy pages from the book.

Google has already begun putting public domain books with expired or no copyrights online, but its plans to publish copyright texts have caused widespread controversy in the publishing world. The Association of American Publishers, a strong opponent of Google’s library digitizing programs viewed the news cautiously and said it assumes Google’s newest plan will seek permission from publishers before offering copyrighted titles online.

Yahoo and Microsoft have similar programs to digitize library materials, but have not been as severely criticized since their programs confine themselves to public-domain books and books for which the copyright holder has given permission.