University Presses Slam Google Print

By Matthew Hicks  |  Posted 2005-05-24 Print this article Print

An association of nonprofit publishers accuses Google of massive copyright infringement based on the search company's plan to digitize millions of library books.

University publishers have put out a call to arms over Googles plans to digitize copyrighted works from three U.S. university libraries. An association representing 125 university and other nonprofit publishers has written to Google Inc. seeking answers to concerns that the Google Print project for libraries violates their copyrights and undermines their financial ability to publish scholarly works. In the letter, dated Friday and available here in PDF form, the Association of American University Presses warns that plans for Google Print "appear to involve systematic infringement of copyright on a massive scale," and outlines 16 questions about the search giants library digitization project.
Google in December had announced its ambition to scan millions of books from five major libraries and make the collections searchable from its Web index.
Read more here about Googles searchable library project. Part of the project will digitize works in the public domain. But the New York-based publishers association is taking issue with Googles plans to scan copyrighted books from libraries at Harvard University, Stanford University and the University of Michigan. "Googles claim that it is fair use to make copies of every copyrighted work in even one major library, let alone three of them, is completely unprecedented in scale," wrote Peter Givler, the associations executive director. "It is tantamount to saying that Google can make copies of every copyrighted work ever published, period." The dispute revolves around what constitutes fair use of the copyrighted books. The publishers contend that Google must seek their permission before making digital copies of the books and sharing those copies with the participating libraries. In a statement issued this week, Google defended its library project and noted that for books still under copyright it will only display bibliographical information and an excerpt of a few sentences as part of search results. "Google respects the rights of copyright holders, and Google Print incorporates several ways to view books to protect copyright," the statement said. Google also said that it allows publishers to opt out of Google Print so that their copyrighted books are not displayed to users. Click here to read about Googles controversial Toolbar AutoLink feature. To the publishers association, though, Googles opt-out policy appears to be arbitrary, since Google had not complied with requests from at least two of its members to be excluded from Google Print, according to the letter. A Google spokesperson did not respond to specific questions about those cases. Givler called Googles opt-out stance disingenuous and irrelevant since publishers are only given control after the copyright infringement has occurred. The protest from university publishers is the latest salvo against Googles library project. In Europe, Google has faced a backlash over fears that the project favors a U.S-centric and Anglo-Saxon view of the world. Already, six European leaders are working on a proposal for a European version of a digital library to counter Google. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, views and analysis on enterprise search technology.
Matthew Hicks As an online reporter for, Matt Hicks covers the fast-changing developments in Internet technologies. His coverage includes the growing field of Web conferencing software and services. With eight years as a business and technology journalist, Matt has gained insight into the market strategies of IT vendors as well as the needs of enterprise IT managers. He joined Ziff Davis in 1999 as a staff writer for the former Strategies section of eWEEK, where he wrote in-depth features about corporate strategies for e-business and enterprise software. In 2002, he moved to the News department at the magazine as a senior writer specializing in coverage of database software and enterprise networking. Later that year Matt started a yearlong fellowship in Washington, DC, after being awarded an American Political Science Association Congressional Fellowship for Journalist. As a fellow, he spent nine months working on policy issues, including technology policy, in for a Member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He rejoined Ziff Davis in August 2003 as a reporter dedicated to online coverage for Along with Web conferencing, he follows search engines, Web browsers, speech technology and the Internet domain-naming system.

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