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Google Subpoenas Others On Book Search

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Yahoo, Microsoft, and Amazon.com will have to tell Google about their book scanning activities, including titles of works they have scanned, as Google works to fend off litigation from publishers and authors over the Google Book Search program.

Google has long contended its practice of scanning books and presenting small excerpts of text, or “snippets,” is consistent with copyright and fair use practices. The Association of American Publishers and the Authors Guild have disagreed, with both suing Google in an effort to stop their scanning.

A Bloomberg report noted the latest chapter in the book search fight. Since Yahoo, Microsoft, and Amazon also do book scanning, Google wants to find out about their operations as the search advertising company’s legal counsel plot out a defense strategy:

Google, the world’s most-used search engine, is seeking information on rival projects by the companies, including book lists, costs, estimated sales, dealings with publishers and possible benefit or harm to copyright owners, according to papers filed in U.S. District Court in New York.

“We have also made clear to these organizations that we will work with them to address any concerns about their confidential information,” Google spokeswoman Megan Lamb said in an e-mail. The judge in the case has issued a protective order to restrict who can see confidential documents, she said.


Google’s position has been that, by exposing a small portion of a book a searcher may have never seen before in response to a query, they can make people aware of those previously unknown works and spur interest in purchasing them.

The publishers and authors have long complained that Google’s opt-out model should be replaced with an opt-in system, where Google asks for permission before scanning titles. Google argued that they can scan books in the context of existing law, and that the process of tracking down every single rightsholder would be too onerous an undertaking.

Google Book Search does not present the entire text of a book under copyright unless permitted to do so. Yahoo and Microsoft, with the Open Content Alliance, have taken a softer approach by working with publishers, while Amazon had done the same thing with its Search Inside program and book page previews.


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David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.

Google Subpoenas Others On Book Search
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  • http://www.google.com/notebook/public/13925590165897262561/BDSIKQgoQmsLrpJsj Katherine

    Beautiful, thankyou so, so much – I have spent hours on this…