06 October 2006 by Published in: General News No comments yet

This from today’s edition of the San Jose Mercury News:

Google seeks rivals’ data for lawsuit over libraries
By Elise Ackerman
Mercury News
Google is subpoenaing documents from its two biggest competitors, Microsoft and Yahoo, in an effort to defend itself in copyright lawsuits filed against it by publishers and authors.

McGraw-Hill Cos. and the Authors Guild, along with other publishers and authors, contend that a Google project to digitize the libraries of four major U.S. universities, as well as portions of the New York Public Libary and Oxford University’s libraries, ignores the rights of copyright holders in favor of Google’s economic self-interest.

The publishers support a separate book-scanning effort, known as the Open Content Alliance, that was conceived by Yahoo and the non-profit Internet Archive, and that seeks explicit permission from copyright holders. The alliance has promised to make books available to all search engines.

Microsoft joined the alliance last year and has said it will launch its own book project similar to Google’s.

According to filings in U.S. District Court in New York, Google wants Yahoo and Microsoft to provide descriptions of their projects, as well as documents that show they have legal rights to the books that are included in the project.

A Microsoft spokesman said the Google subpoena had not yet been served. Yahoo declined to comment on pending legal matters.

Google also said it would subpoena documents from Amazon, Random House and the Association of American Publishers. In a statement, Google said that confidential documents it is requesting would be filed under a protective order that would tightly restrict who could see them.

Still, Google’s requests may be hard to fulfill. According to librarians participating in Google’s project, the legal status of some older books can be hard to determine.

As part of its book project, Google returns snippets of text contained in books along with other search results. People who want to read an entire book can buy it or obtain it through a library. People can also pay a fee and read some books online.

In an interview with the Mercury News last year, Brewster Kahle, the founder of the Internet Archive, said he was concerned how accessible a digital library run by Google would be.

“Is the library of the future going to be open?” Kahle said. “Or will it be controlled by a couple of big corporate players?”


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