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Google Opens Library Doors to the World

The first large scale collection of public domain books went live online today as part of search giant Google's plan to amass the world of letters on the Internet.

Google announced the availability of the collection as part of Google Print, an oft-contended project that stalled over the summer due to potential copyright litigation.

However, the beta page launched today includes only works scanned from Harvard, Stanford, the University of Michigan and the New York public library. Because they're out of copyright, Google said, the books can be read in their entirety online at http://print.google.com. Users can save individual page images.

The company's book digitization project with several of the world's largest libraries, includes works such as U.S. Civil War history books, government documents, the writings of Henry James and other materials, according to Google.

Earlier this week Google resumed its Print Library Project, which involves scanning copyrighted library books.

In September the Authors Guild filed a suit in federal court charging that Google's plan to digitize the entire collections of five libraries violated the copyrights of those books' authors.

Adam Smith, senior business product manager for Google Print, writing in a company blog this week, said the focus of the project is on scanning books that are unique to libraries, including many public domain books, orphaned works and out-of-print titles.

"We're starting with library stacks that mostly contain older and out-of-circulation books, but also some newer books," Smith wrote.

Although many publishers and writers remained concerned over potential copyrighted abuses of splashing their words for free across the Internet, many educators seem excited over the possibilities.

"Today we welcome the world to our library," President of the University of Michigan Mary Sue Coleman said.