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Google Extends Book Scanning Operation - InternetNews.
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Google Extends Book Scanning Operation

Google isn't backing down from its plan to scan every book in the world.

On Tuesday, the search goliath rolled out stand-alone book search services in 14 countries. The same day, the Text and Academic Authors Association (TAA) became the latest publishers' organization to call Google's opt-out strategy backwards.

The international book search services let users in the UK, Australia, Canada, India, New Zealand, Ireland, South Africa, Pakistan, American Samoa, Trinidad and Tobago, Kenya, Jamaica, Mauritius and Uganda search English-language books via keyword, then read passages from the books where those words appear.

As in the United States, searchers can search only books via domain-specific search services similar to print.google.com; results from books also may appear at the top of regular Web search results in their countries' versions of Google.com. In either case, the book search results will include links to online retailers to allow searchers to buy the books.

However, the indexes of books may differ from country to country, in order to comply with local copyright laws, according to Jim Gerber, Google's director of content partnerships.

"The index is slightly different because of our ability to show different works depending on what the rights holders allow us," he said. "Each country has different laws."

Google offers three different kinds of book search results in the U.S. and abroad, Gerber said. For works in the public domain, searchers can essentially access the entire book online. For books under copyright, publishers can contract with the search service through its Google Publishers program to allow access to specified amounts of content.

But Google also has scanned and indexed books under copyright for which the publisher has not given permission, as part of the Google Library project. Only snippets from those books are accessible through search.

Gerber said the international sites would broaden publishers' access to readers. "This is the next step in fulfilling our partnership with publishers in making their books more visible and well-promoted worldwide, so they can reach distribution wherever [readers] are," he said.

But Google reaffirmed its plan to continue with the Google Library project, scanning books under copyright that are owned by participating libraries, despite the protests of publishers' organizations.

"We are currently scanning public domain works of our library partners. Starting November 1st, we will expand our scanning to include the full collections of these libraries," the company's statement said.

In June, the Association of American Publishers (AAP) cried foul in a public letter, protesting that the Google Library Project ignored the contracts they'd signed. The American Association of University Presses also sent a critical letter to Google, complaining that Google Library could cut into the presses' earnings.

Earlier in August, Google took a break from scanning copyrighted material from libraries in order to give publishers time to opt out of the project. The search Goliath offered publishers two new alternatives: They could provide lists of books to be added to their accounts under the Google Books program for publishers, or they could provide a list of books that were not to be scanned.

But publishers weren't happy with that plan.

The AAP responded, "Google, an enormously successful company, claims a sweeping right to appropriate the property of others for its own commercial use unless it is told, case by case and instance by instance, not to."

In a statement released today, Richard Hull, TAA's executive director, said, "Google is putting the burden on publishers and other copyright holders to opt-out of having their works digitized and placed in the online library, an onerous requirement."

And, last week, the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers (ALPSP) joined the public protest, releasing a public letter that said, "We believe that publishers and, where appropriate, other rights holders (such as authors and artists) must be asked for permission before an in-copyright work may be digitized and included in this program."

Gerber said Google continues to work with publishers and their trade organizations.

"While it may not have pleased everyone," he said, "we know that many of our partners are quite happy with the new policy."