University Presses Voice Concerns Over Google Library Program

June 1, 2005
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June 1-15, 2005 Edition

University Presses

Voice Concerns Over

Google Library Program

New York, NY/05/31/05—Google’s plan to digitize the book collections of major research libraries at Harvard, Stanford, the University of Michigan and others, has drawn criticism from the Association of American University Presses. In a recent letter to Google, AAUP Executive Director Peter Givler said Google’s Print for Libraries program appears to involve massive infringement of copyright, and asked the company for clarification on a number of issues.

In the letter, Givler said, “The idea that once this gigantic digitization project has been completed anyone with a computer and internet access will be able to use Google to search the collections of these libraries—including the public domain material from the New York Public Library and the Bodleian Library at Oxford—is enormously seductive. However, it also appears to be built on a fundamental violation of the copyright act, and this large-scale infringement has the potential for serious financial damage to the members of AAUP.”

Major publishers including John Wiley and Sons and Random House have also registered their concerns to Google and have asked Google to further explore with publisher the impact of the program on their authors, customers and businesses. Likewise, concerned European publishers are calling for establishment of their own European Digital Library to counter what they see as the risk of “a crushing domination by America in the definition of the idea that future generations will have of the world,” according to a January 23 article in the French publication, LeMonde.

A Google spokesperson, Eileen Rodriguez, responded to the AAUP, pointing out that publishers can opt out of the program and eliminate their products from search results. Because Google has no outright copyright ownership of the books it scans at libraries, some legal analysts say Google may be in a stronger position over the infringement issue, since fair use laws are somewhat ambiguous. But the debate has only begun.

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