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October 6, 2006

Google Looks to MS, Yahoo for Support on Digitization Project

Actually, they are sending subpoenas to both Microsoft and Yahoo for confidential documents that would support Google's efforts to defend itself against copyright violation as they digitize significant book collections held in major research libraries.  Microsoft and Yahoo have similar projects that are part of the Open Content Alliance.  The plaintiffs in Google's case support that project as the scanning entities must seek explicit permission from copyright holders.  Google requires aggrieved authors to opt out of their scanning project.  Others Google plans to subpoena include Random House Inc., HarperCollins Publishers Inc., Holtzbrink Publishers, The Association of American Publishers (the plaintiff in the Google case), and Amazon.

The judge issued an order limiting the use of the documents to the litigation at hand and also limited who can actually see the documents.  Protective orders or not, Google's competitors can't be too thrilled to share confidential business information even in this context.

In a somewhat related note, Oxford University Press noted that there was a significant uptick in sales due to readers encountering titles through Google Books.  No one is saying what the numbers are, but press reports indicate that Oxford is happy with sales figures.  That development may give Google some leverage in negotiating future deals with publishers. 

The Oxford angle is in a Reuters report here.  The link may not last, so here is one quote from the story from Oxford:

"Google Book Search has helped us turn searchers into consumers," said Colleen Scollans, the director of online sales for Oxford University Press

She declined to provide specific figures, but said that sales growth has been "significant". Scollans estimated that 1 million customers have viewed 12,000 Oxford titles using the Google program.

Other stories on the litigation are in the San Jose Mercury News, the Los Angeles Times,

October 6, 2006 | Permalink

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