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Google Extends Print Further into Europe

Google expanded its Google Print service, launching book-specific search services in France, Italy, Germany, Holland, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, and Spain.

Each new service has its own localized interface, and, at this point, a limited number of books available. But searchers in one country may see book results from other national indexes.

Jim Gerber, Google's director of content partnerships, said that all books in the international print search program had been acquired through publisher partnership programs in those countries. He said that the initial versions, available as beta services through Google Labs, will help publishers understand what the service will be like.

When Google Print launched in the U.S., there was plenty of confusion and anxiety on the part of publishers and authors, especially about Google's stated intent to digitize the entire contents of libraries, whether or not it had permission from the publishers of the books in question.

An August announcement that the search Goliath had extended English-language book search to 15 countries coincided with a protest from the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers, which said that authors and artists should be asked for permission before their works were included.

Google Print includes the Google Print Publisher Program, through which publishers can contribute books to be scanned and indexed for search; and the Google Print Library Project, in which Google is scanning and indexing the entire collections of the libraries of the University of Michigan. Harvard University, Stanford University and Oxford University, as well as public-domain books in the collection of the New York Public Library.

The Association of American Publishers, the American Association of University Presses have protested, while the Authors Guild sued.

While users can go to the book-specific search pages, book results also will be integrated into Google search results pages in each of the countries. Users will be able to click on a "buy the book" link to go to a third party, online bookstore.

The launch follows Google's August announcement of publisher programs in France, Italy, Germany, Holland and Spain; publisher programs also are in place in Austria, Switzerland and Belgium.

The format follows Google's controversial U.S. version: Google users can search the full text of every book that the company has scanned. After they click on a book result, they view a bibliographic page and a few sentences of the book containing the keyword. In some cases, publishers have given permission to Google to let users read several pages of the book. Public domain books can be viewed in their entirety.

Google is reaching out to trade groups in each of the countries, Gerber said.

"We've tried to make an effort to speak with various organizations in each of the countries," he said. "I'm sure we've hit many, but not all. I think we have fairly good relations with folks in these countries."

Gerber said that Google had spoken numerous times with all the U.S. organizations before the domestic launch of Google Print, and it had also briefed them in the days prior to the launch of Google Library. He said that the company had announced Google Library earlier than it liked to.

"Normally, we bake something a little more fully, so we can get it out there for people to try before we announce things," he said. "But we knew the library project would be of interest to our publisher partners, and we didn't want to embark on scanning without letting them know."

However, Google did begin scanning books at the University of Michigan in 2002, according to John Wilkin, associate university librarian and chief project manager.

In response to publishers' concerns, Google instituted a policy by which they could opt out of having books in their catalogs scanned within the Library Project.

Gerber said that Google was honoring the different copyright laws in each country in which it launches book search. "We continue to speak with our publishing partners and various publishing organizations," he said. We regret that the Authors Guild chose to sue us rather than simply opt out."