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Publishers throw book at Google


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Publishers throw book at Google


Wednesday, October 19, 2005; Posted: 2:15 p.m. EDT (18:15 GMT)




SAN FRANCISCO, California (Reuters) -- Five major publishers filed suit against Google Inc. in Manhattan's federal court on Wednesday seeking to block plans to scan copyrighted works without permission.


The complaint lodged in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York against Google names as plaintiffs McGraw-Hill Cos. Inc., Pearson Plc's Pearson Education and Penguin Group (USA) units, Viacom Inc.'s Simon & Schuster and John Wiley & Sons Inc.


The suit seeks a declaration that the Web search leader commits infringement when it scans entire books covered by copyright without permission of the copyright owner.


Legal experts say the spat between Google and the publishing industry is shaping up as a new front in the battle over digital duplication of media, including music, movies and now books.


At issue are the rights of copyright holders versus the public's "fair use" interest in being free to use limited portions of these materials for commentary or review, analysts say.


A spokeswoman for the Association of American Publishers said the suit was filed after lengthy discussions broke down last week over the alleged copyright infringement implications of Google's Print Library Project.


"Creating an easy-to-use index of books is fair use under copyright law and supports the purpose of copyright: to increase the awareness and sales of books, directly benefiting copyright holders," David Drummond, Google's general counsel, said in a statement.


"This short-sighted attempt to block Google Print works counter to the interests of not just the world's readers, but also the world's authors and publishers," Drummond said.


The Authors Guild and writers Herbert Mitgang, Betty Miles and Daniel Hoffman filed a separate suit against Google making similar charges in September.


The Authors Guild suit is a class action suit that seeks damages from Google. The newly filed publishers suit seeks a declaratory judgment that Google is committing copyright infringement by scanning books, said Patricia Schroeder, president of the Association of American Publishers.


In August, Google, which is working with five of the world's great libraries to digitize their book collections, temporarily stopped scanning copyrighted books in the face of a growing outcry by publishers. The libraries have continued to scan public domain works, which are not covered by copyright.


The Google library project plans to resume scanning copyrighted works as well starting in November. The copyrighted books being scanned by libraries are for use in what amounts to a digital card catalog, Google and its backers argue.


Supporters of the Google Print project say the scanning of the full text of the books is necessary to create a searchable catalog of the books located within the five libraries' collections. Google says it has no plans to make full copies of copyrighted works available without their owners' permission.


Google operates a parallel program with major academic, technical and trade publishers to allow readers to search the text of copyrighted books on publisher-controlled Web pages that show several pages of adjoining text and feature links to publisher and other retail outlets for purchasing the books.


All five of the publishers named as plaintiffs in the latest lawsuit have participated in Google's publisher program, according to the company.



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