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Google and UC sign contract to digitize books

Google set to digitize millions of books from the University of California's more than 100 libraries across its 10 campuses.

Google has added another partner to its controversial library-book scanning project--the University of California, which is also working with a team led by Yahoo, Microsoft and the Internet Archive.

Google will be scanning and digitizing millions of books from the University of California's more than 100 libraries across its 10 campuses and making those titles fully searchable, Adam M. Smith, group product manager on Google Book Search, said Tuesday.

Google has been working since last year to scan, digitize and make searchable public domain and copyright-protected books from the university collections of the Library of Congress; Oxford, Harvard and Stanford universities; the University of Michigan; and the New York Public Library.

UC officials are already having books digitized as part of the Open Content Alliance (OCA), which is led by the nonprofit Internet Archive, Yahoo and Microsoft.

Jennifer Colvin, strategic communications manager at the California Digital Library, which works on digitization projects for the UC school system, said she saw no conflict or problems with the school system working with two seemingly competing scanning projects.

"We value our partnership with the OCA," she said. "As a public institution, we believe in making our materials as widely and freely available as possible."

Under the Google-UC deal, terms of which were not disclosed, Google will keep a copy of all scanned books and the UC will keep a copy, Colvin said. The scanning will start as soon as possible, but details about where and how were still being worked out, she said.

Google is sharing the copies of the scanned books with its library partners but restricting access to them beyond that. For instance, the books can be searched only in its index and not through any other search engines.

The OCA was formed to be the open-source alternative to Google's commercial effort. The OCA also differs in its approach to copyright, avoiding copyright issues that have plagued Google by digitizing only books that are out of copyright.

The Google Books Library Project is digitizing any books it can and offering only snippets of a few sentences for books that are still protected under copyright. As a result, Google has been sued by groups representing authors and publishers, who allege the Google Books project violates copyright. Google rejects that argument.

"Obviously we're concerned with the sentiments and interests of our publishing partners," said Dan Greenstein, UC librarian at the California Digital Library. "We will work in compliance with the law."

Internet Archive founder Brewster Kahle said he was pleased that UC will continue to work with the OCA, but he criticized the school for "privatizing its library system" by agreeing to Google's limitations on distributing and sharing copies of digitized books.

"They're effectively giving their library to a single corporation," Kahle said. "Having a public institution decide to go with Google's restrictions doesn't help the idea of libraries being open in the future."

that Google and the UC system were in talks last week.