TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Publishers Protest Google Library Project

Publishers Protest Google Library Project

Lisa Minter (
Tue, 24 May 2005 02:15:33 -0500

By MICHAEL LIEDTKE, AP Business Writer

A group of academic publishers called Google Inc.'s plan to scan
millions of library books into its Internet search engine index a
troubling financial threat to its membership.

The Association of American University Presses said in a letter that
was to be sent to Google on Monday that the online search engine's
library project "appears to involve systematic infringement of
copyright on a massive scale."

The association, which represents 125 nonprofit publishers of academic
journals and scholarly books, asked Google to respond to a list of 16
questions seeking more information about how the company plans to
protect copyrights.

Two unidentified publishers already asked Google to withhold its
copyrighted material from the scanners, but the company hasn't
complied with the requests, Peter Givler, the executive director for
the New York-based trade group, wrote in the letter.

Google, based in Mountain View, Calif., did not return phone and
e-mail messages left Monday.

The association of nonprofit publishers is upset because Google has
indicated it will scan copyright-protected books from three university
libraries -- Harvard, Michigan and Stanford.

Those three universities also operate publishing arms represented by
the group complaining about Google's 5-month-old "Libraries for Print"
project. That means the chances of the association suing Google are
"extremely remote," Givler said in an interview Monday.

Still, Givler said the association is very worried about Google's
scanning project.

"The more we talked about it with our lawyers, the more questions
bubbled up," he said. "And so far Google hasn't provided us with any
good answers."

Google also is scanning books stored in the New York Public Library
and Oxford in England, but those two libraries so far are only
providing Google with "public domain" works -- material no longer
protected by copyrights because of its age, or its author's intentions.

Federal law considers the free distribution of some copyrighted
material to be permissible "fair use." The company has told the
nonprofit publishers that its library program meets this criteria.

Some for-profit publishers also are taking a closer look at Google's
library-scanning project.

"We are exploring issues and opportunities with Google, including the
potential impact of this program on our authors, our customers and our
business," said John Wiley & Sons Inc. spokeswoman Susan Spilka.

Copyright concerns aren't the only issue casting a cloud over Google's
library-scanning project. The project also has drawn criticism in
Europe for placing too much emphasis on material from the United

One of Google's most popular features -- a section that compiles news
stories posted on thousands of Web sites -- already has triggered
claims of copyright infringement. Agence France-Presse, a French news
agency, is suing for damages of at least $17.5 million, alleging
"Google News" is illegally capitalizing on its copyrighted material.

The latest complaints about Google are being driven by university-
backed publishers who fear there will be little reason to buy their
books if Google succeeds in its effort to create a virtual reading

The university presses depend on books sales and other licensing
agreements for most of their revenue, making copyright protections
essential to their survival.

Google has turned its search engine into a moneymaking machine,
generating a $369 million profit during the first three months of this
year alone. The company is counting on its library scanning project to
attract even more visitors to its site so it can display more ads and
potentially boost its earnings even more.

Investors already adore Google. The company's shares surged $13.84, or
5.7 percent, to close Monday at $255.45 on the Nasdaq Stock
Market. Earlier in the session, the shares traded as high as $258.10 -
a new peak since the company went public nine months ago at $85.

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press.

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