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Authors contend Google's book-scanning project hurting millions

Agam Shah | May 4, 2012
A group representing authors in a copyright case slammed Google in court on Thursday, saying the company's book-scanning project has hurt millions of authors whose works have been digitized.

The Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers filed a case against Google in 2005, and Google reached a settlement agreement with the authors and publishers October 2008. Under the settlement, Google would pay US$125 million to obtain rights to display snippets of in-copyright books and provide full online access through individual purchases or subscriptions. The settlement also called for the creation of a Book Rights Registry, an independent nonprofit entity that would locate copyright owners and compensate authors and publishers for access to their works.

The proposed settlement was amended, but was rejected in March last year by Chin, who said it was not fair or reasonable because it would have given Google the rights to full books without explicit permission from copyright owners. Some arguments against the settlement proposal also revolved around the possibility of giving Google too much control over "orphan works," whose copyright owners can't be located and which are often out of print.

Orphan works also came up in the arguments on Thursday, tied to Google's request to dismiss the case. Google's lawyer said the contract and copyright status of many out-of-print works are unclear.

In September, Google and the representatives for authors and publishers told Chin they would like to continue discussions on a revised settlement. A Google spokeswoman Thursday declined to comment on whether negotiations were going on between the company and authors or the American Society of Media Photographers, which represents the photographers. Negotiations with the publishers are ongoing, the spokeswoman said.



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