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Google Book Project Signs UC Pact

Google's effort to index library books turned another page with the addition of the University of California to its Print Library Project.

The agreement could be a leap for the project, temporarily halted due to copyright concerns and later renewed under stricter guidelines.

With 100 libraries spread across 10 campuses, the UC pact could be Google's biggest win.

Other libraries participating in the program include the University of Michigan, Harvard, Stanford, Oxford and New York University.

"For readers, researchers, and book lovers all over the world, this means even more access to the great works of history and culture," Google announced in a statement.

Today's announcement with the University of California is curious, considering the ongoing legal battles brought by publishers against Google's Book Library Project, said Allan Adler, vice president for Legal and Governmental Affairs for the Association of American Publishers, one of the groups suing Google.

Adler said one reason for the UC to join Google might be if the large library system made an arrangement similar to the University of Michigan.

In that instance, Google agreed to give the library a digital copy of every book the Internet company digitized. With more than 100 libraries, such an agreement could result in huge savings for the UC.

Google spokesperson Megan Lamb refused to discuss any financial arrangements.

Soon after beginning two years ago, the project encountered opposition from publishers and authors concerned Google's goal of scanning every library book could violate copyrights.

In 2005, the Authors Guild sued Google, charging it violated authors' copyright.

In November, Google resumed scanning books, limited mostly to older, out-of-print titles, giving publishers the option of providing a list of books they could or could not scan.

Google said online readers will get full access to books in the public domain, while volumes still protected by copyright will display only title and author, plus the location of the book for borrowing or purchasing purposes, according to a statement.

Last year, a similar effort headed by Yahoo, the Open Content Alliance, kicked off its own plans to digitize publications and offer them on the Web.