Friday, October 30, 2009

Chinese Authors Object to Google’s Book Scanning; New York Times, 10/30/09

Sharon LaFraniere, New York Times; Chinese Authors Object to Google’s Book Scanning:

"Two Chinese writers’ groups claim that Google has scanned Chinese works into an electronic database in violation of international copyright standards. The organizations are urging China’s authors to step forward and defend their rights.

“Google has seriously violated the copyrights of Chinese authors. That is an undeniable fact,” Chen Qirong, a spokesperson for the China Writers’ Association, said by telephone. The group says it represents nearly 9,000 writers.

Google has sent a representative to Beijing to meet on Monday with officials of the China Written Works Copyright Society, which manages Chinese copyrights. The company insists it has fully complied with copyright protections...

“We take the view, backed up by international copyright law, that no copyright is violated in this process since the amount of text displayed is so small and it’s purely for information,” said Courtney Hohne, a Google spokeswoman, in an phone interview from Singapore. “In fact, it’s comparable to a quotation from a book in a review or our Web search results, both of which are perfectly legal.” Ms. Hohne said it is virtually impossible for Google to discover who holds the rights to all of the millions of books on library shelves. Waiting for copyright holders to surface would doom any effort to create a comprehensive electronic index, she said. If a copyright holder does object, Google removes the snippets or even all reference to the book from the search engine, she said.

The Chinese groups see it differently. “It is as you have something nice in your living room and Google takes it and puts it in its living room,” said Zhang Hongbo, deputy director general of the Chinese copyright society. “We are definitely opposed to using our works without our permission.”...

Marybeth Peters, the top copyright official in the United States, told Congress in September that the settlement could put “diplomatic stress” on the government because it would affect foreign authors whose rights are protected by international treaties. The governments of France and Germany formally oppose the deal."

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