Monday, September 7, 2009

Google Books moves to reassure EU publishers; Yahoo, 9/7/09

Aoife White, AP, via Yahoo; Google Books moves to reassure EU publishers:

"Google sought to assure European copyright holders that the deal wouldn't infringe their rights, saying it wrote to several national publisher associations "to clarify that books that are commercially available in Europe will be treated as commercially available under the settlement."...

Unlike the U.S., Google is only scanning European books over 150 years of age to avoid infringing copyrighted material. So far, it has scanned some 10 million books — many of them still in copyright.

Google Books has strong advocates and harsh critics in Europe. While library associations pleaded for Europeans to have more access to the content available to U.S. users of Google Books, some rights holders complained that Google was creating a dangerous new monopoly...

Some European libraries see the project more favorably. Sylvia Van Peteghem, the chief librarian of Belgium's Ghent University, said her work with Google had prompted users to increasingly seek out paper versions of scanned books.

"It's a revival of old books," she said, praising a project that created a digital backup of books that can easily be damaged or stolen.

LIBER, the League of European Research Libraries, said it wants Google to show that it will act as a long-term trustee for printed material and provide ways for scanned books to be available for decades to come.

European officials have also called for a debate — and possibly new rules — to clarify what can be done with "orphan" books that are still in copyright but which cannot be reprinted or digitized because the copyright holders cannot be traced."

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