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102 Google Delays Book Scans in Libraries Until End of 2005

August 12, 2005 / SAN FRANCISCO -- Google Inc. said Friday that it had suspended its high-profile effort to scan copyrighted books from libraries into its searchable index.
The Internet giant -- which sees the program as part of its grand mission to organize the world's information -- said it would wait until November before resuming the work to give publishers time to say which titles they don't want copied. In the meantime, Google plans to keep adding books that aren't copyrighted and those that are submitted by publishers for inclusion.
But a publisher trade group said Google's move failed to answer its concern that the company was violating copyrights by scanning books without permission.
"We're very wary about what the precedent is for the entire intellectual property world because if Google can do this, the whole world can do this," said Patricia Schroeder, president of the Assn. of American Publishers.
Google announced the book-scanning program last fall as part of an effort to expand the universe of documents users can find with the world's leading search engine.
"We're trying to create a program that makes the text of all books searchable for free," said Adam M. Smith, product manager of Google Print.
Experts say Google is blazing a trail in the world of intellectual property law with these efforts, but has rankled media companies in the process.
In March, news service Agence France-Presse sued Google for displaying its headlines, photos and story beginnings in news-search results. In November, the publishers of Perfect 10, an adult magazine and related website, sued Google for displaying copies of copyrighted Perfect 10 photos. And some TV executives have objected to a project in which Google records programs off the air as it tries to do for TV what it's doing for books.
Google is "really a bull in a china shop," said Chuck Richard, lead analyst at Outsell Inc., a research firm that follows the information industry. "They put out the technology, they forge ahead to the next one, and they clean up in their wake. They deal with the business matters afterward."
The company said last year that it would bring books into the digital age through contracts with several academic libraries. Harvard, Stanford and the University of Michigan agreed to let Google scan all the books in their collections.
Oxford and the New York Public Library agreed to let the company scan only books not covered by copyright.
Google searches the text of books to deliver relevant passages along with other results that match keywords typed in by users. For copyrighted books scanned from libraries, Google displays only a few sentences. For books submitted by publishers, it generally shows a few pages. Books no longer under copyright are available in full.
On its website, the company said Google Print is "like going to a bookstore and browsing &emdash; only with a Google twist." Its search results include links to online bookstores.
But book publishers complained after the program was announced and were negotiating with Google in the months that followed. The Assn. of American Publishers, the Assn. of American University Presses and other groups said Google had no right to make copies of books, even if it displayed only a few sentences. Schroeder said her organization objected to Google's pronouncement that publishers must opt out of the program if they don't want their books scanned.
"The great concern of not just publishers but the entire intellectual property community is Google's turning copyright law on its head," she said. "All the burden is now on the rights holder."
Google executives said they believed the "fair use" doctrine of copyright law gave the company the right to scan the books for that purpose. The doctrine generally allows limited use of copyrighted materials &emdash; for example, short excerpts of a book published in a review.
Lawyers not involved with the case said it was a difficult issue, and they differed on whether Google's efforts were a defensible "fair use" of copyrighted works or illegal copying.
Bruce Sunstein, an intellectual property lawyer in Boston, said Google would have a tough case. He noted that the company profited from its search-engine results by selling ads.
"The odds favor the copyright owners in this one," Sunstein said. "Google has a noble purpose, but I don't think the noble purpose is going to be enough to save them."
But Jonathan Zittrain, a Harvard law professor, said that Google probably would win in court if it ever came to that. Its efforts benefit society by introducing new books to people, he said, and it's hard to argue that publishers would lose business because Google lets people read snippets.
"This is miles away from Napster music piracy stuff, because here the usage of the system in no way substitutes for buying books," he said.
Schroeder said the trade group planned to continue negotiations with Google and had no immediate plans to sue.



ByLines: Editors Note

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