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Proposed Google Book Search Raises Copyright Concerns

Written by Dan Head on 25 May 2005

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Search engine giant Google is proposing to introduce a new book search service that would provide the text of library books for users. The project Google Print, was mooted last year and would see the text of millions of books scanned onto a database for reference by Google clients, however publishers have spurned the idea and accused the search engine of Copyright infringement “on a massive scale”.

The Association of American University Presses, that represents the US publishers of academic journals and scholastic texts, voiced its concerns over the potential diminished sales that could affect the publishers. In a recent correspondence to Google, the association was reported to have stated that the print program “appears to involve systematic infringement of copyright on a massive scale”.

In the aforesaid letter Peter Givler, executive director of the Association of American University Presses, posed 16 questions to Google in order to ascertain the means in which the project was to be executed. Moreover Givler claimed that requests for Google to refrain from scanning the copyrighted material by the publishers, has been ignored.

Along side Google there are five major US libraries in the project, namely Harvard, Stanford, the University of Michigan, the University of Oxford and The New York Public Library.

In response to the claims of copyright infringement, Google has defended the project by stating that it will offer copyright protection for the authors and publishers of the texts. According to Google the featured texts will be books that are out of copyright, however where copyright subsists in a given text, the only information that will be provided will be bibliographic along side a few sentences of text.

In a statement issued by Google on Monday, the search firm stated:

“Although we believe there are many business advantages for publishers to participate in Google Print, they may opt out, and their books scanned in libraries will not be displayed to Google users. We continue to maintain an active dialogue with all of our publishing partners participating in Google Print and we encourage any publishers to contact us directly with their questions and comments.”

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