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Google Resumes Library Book Scans Despite Opposition

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November 15-30, 2005 Edition

Google Resumes

Library Book Scans

Despite Opposition

NEW YORK, NY/11/4/2005­In the face of mounting opposition from the publishing industry, Google has resumed scanning library books this month, saying that it is “making difficult-to-find books easy to discover.”

The scanning will begin with older and out-of-print titles. However, Google has not reneged on its plan to scan new and in-copyright titles. Adam Smith, senior business product manager for Google Print, has said on his blog that as soon as the older titles are scanned in the libraries, they’ll begin scanning newer ones, thus breaking Google’s August promise to the industry that it would not scan any in-copyright material.

Smith describes Google Print as a digital card catalogue, and emphasizes that users won’t be able to access full texts of books. The Google Print program and the Google Library program are two slightly different programs. The print project plans to digitize and/or index books from publishers, and the library project intends to do the same with titles residing in libraries. In both cases, copyrighted materials are involved.

The huge search company faces a lawsuit from the Association of American Publishers (AAP), which represents numerous major publishers.

The Association of American Publishers filed a lawsuit October 20 in Manhattan U.S. District Court against Google, in an effort to bar the search giant from developing an electronic library index of books.

The AAP and five major publishers have joined to seek an injunction against Google for illegally scanning of copyrighted books. Joining the AAP in the suit are Penguin Group USA, Simon & Schuster, John Wiley & Sons, McGraw-Hill, and Pearson Education, adding to the ground swell of opposition in the publishing industry against the Google Print Library Project.

In September, the US Authors Guild, representing more than 8,000 writers, filed a class-action lawsuit charging Google with “massive copyright infringement” and seeks to bar the company from reproducing copyrighted works and making them available online.

Likewise, the Association of Authors’ Representatives (AAR), which includes 365 agent members, sent a strongly-worded letter signed by AAR President Gail Hochman, to Google Chairman and CEO Eric E. Schmidt, stating: “The AAR believes that Google’s intention to digitize and then provide access to the complete works of the author-clients represented by our members­without the consent of the owners of the copyrights in those works and for Google’s own profit­constitutes an egregious violation of those copyrights and an affront to the rights and integrity of those authors and their works.