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Google pauses library project

Search powerhouse will temporarily stop scanning copyright-protected books while it works out an agreement with publishers.

Google will temporarily stop scanning copyright-protected books from libraries into its database, the company said late Thursday.

The company's library project, launched in December, involves the scanning of out-of-print and copyright works so that their text can be found through the search engine's database. Google is working on the project with libraries at Stanford University, Harvard University and other schools.

The plan has come under fire from several groups, including publishers, who object to what they claim are violations of their copyrights.

Google said on its blog late Thursday that, following discussions with "publishers, publishing industry organizations and authors," it will stop scanning in copyright-protected until November, while it makes changes to its Google Print Publisher Program.

The publisher program also involves scanning copyright books. In that program, books are scanned--at the publisher's request--to let Web searchers view excerpts from books, critics' reviews and other book data, with links back to publishers' Web sites or other places where the books are for sale.

Google said it is adding new features that will let publishers submit a list of books that, when scanned through the library project, will be added to the publisher program. It is also adding a feature that lets publishers present a list of books that should not be scanned through the library project.

"We think most publishers and authors will choose to participate in the publisher program in order (to) introduce their work to countless readers around the world. But we know that not everyone agrees, and we want to do our best to respect their views too," Google said on its blog.

Google declined to comment. (Google representatives have instituted a policy of not talking with CNET reporters until July 2006 in response to privacy issues raised by a previous story.)

But Google's move apparently did not satisfy all publishers' concerns regarding the project.

"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," Patricia Schroeder, CEO of the Association of American Publishers, said in a statement.

"Many AAP members have partnered with Google in its Print for Publishers Program, allowing selected titles to be digitized and searchable on a limited basis pursuant to licenses or permission from publishers," she said. "We were confident that by working together, Google and publishers could have produced a system that would work for everyone, and regret that Google has decided not to work with us on our alternative proposal."