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Valparaiso Univ. Law School

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Monday, August 15, 2005

Google Suspends Project; Publishers Not Appeased

In December, Google launched an ambitious project called "Google Print for Libraries."  Google plans to scan all sorts of books housed in the world's premier libraries and make them available on the Internet.  Publishers were outraged by the project.

Google entered into agreements with Harvard, Stanford, University of Michigan, Oxford and the New York Public Library to digitally scan millions of their books, including many that are copyrighted, and make them available on the Internet through its search engine.  A copy of one of these cooperative agreements between Michigan and Google provides that the parties intend to "perform  . . . pursuant to copyright law."  Publishing groups, however, were snarling.  They called on Google to cease unlicensed scanning of their copyrighted materials.  The publishers challenged Google's assertion of the "fair use" doctrine of federal copyright law.

This past Friday, Google made an announcement on its corporate blog that it will suspend scanning of any "in-copyright books" until November 2005.  The company stated that this suspension of the project will give "any and all copyright holders" time to advise Google "which books they'd prefer that we not scan if we find them in a library."  Google further stated:

We’re going to continue talking about Google Print with our partners and the publishing industry. These discussions have been crucial in helping to build a program that benefits the industry and, most important, the millions of users who’ll be able to discover new books. Stay tuned.

The publishing industry is not appeased.  Patricia Schroeder, president and CEO of the Association of American Publishers said that Google’s concession did not alleviate the publishing industry’s concerns that the project infringes on publisher's copyrights.  She stated that “Google’s procedure shifts the responsibility for preventing infringement to the copyright owner rather than the user, turning every principle of copyright law on its ear.”

[Meredith R. Miller]

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