Thursday, October 26, 2006

Update On The Google Lawsuits

On October 8th, I reported on the status of the lawsuits against Google by the groups of publishers and authors who are demanding that the company stop its policy of copying books without permission. Google insists that, despite the copying of complete texts, their search engine does not permit the public to see more than "snippets" of the books.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Google Inc. subpoenaed information from Yahoo, Inc., Microsoft Corp. and Inc. to help fight these copyright lawsuits. Google filed papers with the U.S. District Court in New York, requesting information on similar projects from its competitors. Google is asking for "book lists, costs, estimated sales, dealings with publishers and possible benefit or harm to copyright owners . . . Google, which doesn't disclose how many books it has scanned, also wants to know the titles, authors, and copyright status of books already offered through competitor's book projects."

Not satisfied with this info, Google also demanded data from HarperCollins, Holtzbrinck, Random House and the Association of American Publishers (AAP).

Microsoft and Yahoo are part of a competing copy project called the Open Content Alliance (see my blog for November 6, 2005). An OCA spokesman said that their "plan is to scan as many out-of-print books as possible, then work up the chain toward books under copyright."

Amazon's Search Inside program is configured a little differently. Publishers must enroll in the program and submit the books they want included.

Despite the fact that the replies to Google’s subpoenas are not due for another month, Publishers Weekly reported yesterday that Amazon and the AAP have already filed their separate responses, objecting to the subpoena.

AAP responded that it cannot supply documents “related to what Google called the ‘Association of American Publishers Book Search Project’ because ‘no such project exists.’”

Amazon responded that “it won't supply the requested materials because the information is ‘highly confidential, proprietary and constitutes trade secrets.’ Amazon also noted that Google is looking to sell online advertising and to promote e-tailers, activities in direct competition with Amazon.”

Stay tuned for more . . .

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