EU seeks opinions on Google Books

European Commission asks authors and publishers in Europe for opinion on Google plan to digitize and publish out of print books that have copyright protections.

European Union regulators want publishers and authors to weigh in on copyright issues with Google's book scanning and book search project , according to the Associated Press.

European Commission officials will meet with copyright holders on September 7 to discuss the search giant's $125 million proposed settlement with U.S. publishers and authors granting Google the right to digitize and publish books that are out of print but still protected by copyright law. The court overseeing the settlement has given authors a September 4 deadline to opt out individually if they don't not wish to participate. Google has negotiated many deals with some publishers for current works and is also digitizing public-domain works.

Critics complain that the deal, which is scheduled to be implemented in October, would effectively give Google a monopoly over books that are in copyright but out of print. Google argues that the agreement will make millions of books hidden on library shelves more accessible and give publishers and authors a new opportunity to profit from them.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Justice said it was launching a formal investigation into the proposed settlement .

A Google spokesperson told CNET News that the company will be at the EC meeting.

"What's currently planned is a fact-finding exercise by the Commission--not an investigation--and we're looking forward to taking part," the spokesperson said in an e-mail. "We agree with European Commissioner, Viviane Reding, when she said, "We should create a modern set of European rules that encourage the digitization of books."

Update 4:50 p.m. PDT: The Wall Street Journal reported that the U.S. House of Representatives' Judiciary Committee also is considering a look at the matter, citing unknown people with whom the committee discussed its plans and a Google spokesman quoted as saying, "there's interest in having a hearing to explore the settlement."

 

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