Publishers sue Google over book search project

Association of American Publishers accuses Google of "freeloading on the talent and property of authors and publishers."

Alorie Gilbert Staff Writer, CNET News.com
Alorie Gilbert
writes about software, spy chips and the high-tech workplace.
Alorie Gilbert
2 min read
The Association of American Publishers has filed a lawsuit against Google, alleging the Internet company's plans to scan and digitally distribute the text of major library collections would violate copyright protections.

The group filed suit after lengthy discussions with Google's management about the company's Print Library Project broke down, the AAP said on Wednesday.

As part of the project, Google is working to scan all or parts of the book collections of the University of Michigan, Harvard University, Stanford University, the New York Public Library and Oxford University. It plans to let people search the texts. The company also intends to sell advertisements related to such searches.

"The publishing industry is united behind this lawsuit against Google and united in the fight to defend their rights," AAP President and former Colorado Congresswoman Patricia Schroeder said in a statement. "While authors and publishers know how useful Google's search engine can be and think the Print Library could be an excellent resource, the bottom line is that under its current plan, Google is seeking to make millions of dollars by freeloading on the talent and property of authors and publishers."

The AAP suit follows a similar action by the Authors Guild, which sued Google last month over the library project. Other groups, including the Association of American University Presses, have also criticized the book-scanning plan.

Google has defended itself, saying the project is fully consistent with the fair-use doctrine under U.S. copyright law, which allows for excerpts in book reviews. The company said in August, however, that it would temporarily halt the project to respond to concerns. It plans to resume the project on Nov. 1, AAP said.

The AAP suit seeks a declaration by the court that Google commits infringement when it scans entire books covered by copyright and a court order preventing Google from doing so without permission from copyright owners. The group filed the suit on behalf of McGraw-Hill, Pearson Education, Penguin Group, Simon & Schuster, and John Wiley & Sons.

"Google Print is a historic effort to make millions of books easier for people to find and buy. Creating an easy-to-use index of books is fair use under copyright law and supports the purpose of copyright: to increase the awareness and sales of books directly benefiting copyright holders," said David Drummond, Google's vice president of corporate development and general counsel. "This short-sighted attempt to block Google Print works counter to the interests of not just the world's readers, but also the world's authors and publishers."