Authors Guild Sues Google Over Print Library Project

Three authors, in conjunction with the Authors Guild, sued Google Tuesday over the search engine giantis Google Print Library project. That project seeks to digitize and make searchable all of the worldis printed books. The New York Times reported Wednesday that the authors claim the project represents "massive copyright infringement."

At issue is Googleis approach to the project. The company has invited publishers to submit their books for scanning, where they would then be searchable through Googleis search engine. Only passages from the works are available in search results, and Googleis angle is to make money from ad sales on search results. The pitch to authors is that their works will get more exposure from Googleis millions of users.

The Times noted that many publishers have submitted works through this arm of the program, but the plaintiffs take issue with another aspect of Googleis efforts.

The company signed agreements with the University of Michigan, Harvard, and Stanford to digitize every book in their resepctive libraries. As part of this effort, Google is allowing authors of works in those libraries to opt out, and suspended its scanning efforts earlier this year to allow authors more time to opt out if they so wish.

This is a violation of copyright, according to the plaintiffs, whose suit said that copyright law clearly says that permission to reproduce a work has to be obtained prior to the copying. In other words, the plaintiffs contend that the onus of securing permission lies with Google, and not with the authors to deny that permission.

All three of the authors have works at the University of Michigan, and are seeking an injunction to stop Googleis scanning work, and unspecified damages. The authors, along with the Authors Guild, are also seeking class action status for the suit.