- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 19, 2005

NEW YORK (AP) — Just weeks after a leading authors’ organization sued Google Inc. for copyright infringement, the Association of American Publishers also has filed suit against the search-engine giant’s plans to scan and index books for the Internet.

Under the Google Print Library Project, millions of copyrighted books from three major university libraries — Harvard, Stanford and the University of Michigan — will be indexed on the Internet unless the copyright holder notifies the company by Nov. 1 about which volumes should be excluded. Two other libraries, Oxford University and the New York Public Library, will contribute only out-of-copyright materials.

Google has called the project an invaluable chance for books to receive increased exposure. The library project is an offshoot of the Google Print program, for which publishers voluntarily submit copyrighted material.

But in papers filed yesterday in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, the publishers association sought a ruling that would support an injunction against illegal scanning and cited the “continuing, irreparable and imminent harm publishers are suffering … due to Google’s willful [copyright] infringement to further its own commercial purposes.”

The suit named five publishers as plaintiffs: McGraw-Hill, Pearson Education, Penguin Group (USA), Simon & Schuster and John Wiley & Sons. The suit seeks recovery of legal costs, but no additional damages.

Google yesterday called the legal action “short-sighted” and said the project was a “historic effort to make millions of books easier for people to find and buy.”

“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,” said David Drummond, Google’s general counsel.

The Authors Guild, which represents about 8,000 writers, filed a class-action lawsuit for copyright infringement last month. Besides an injunction, the guild is seeking monetary damages.

Patricia Schroeder, president of the Association of American Publishers, said yesterday that the publishers’ lawsuit came after months of negotiations with Google.

Publishers worry that Google is scanning entire books, even though a limited amount of material will be displayed online. The library project’s Nov. 1 deadline, Google’s “opt out” provision, was established over the summer in response to such concerns.

But Ms. Schroeder said yesterday that the company still wrongly placed the burden on copyright holders. In contrast, publishers do not object to the larger Google Print program because nothing would be used without explicit permission.

Google has countered that it does not need permission for the library project and calls the “opt out” clause a courtesy.

Ms. Schroeder, while noting that viewpoint, cited two reasons for objecting to Google’s program.

“First of all, it sets a dangerous precedent. If you allow Google to do it, you allow anybody to do it. It’s going to be an impossible task for copyright owners to defend themselves,” she said.

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