26 May 2005 Online search service Google has drawn fierce criticism from the Association of American University Presses (AAUP), a group of US publishers, who accuse Google of breaching copyright rules in its university libraries digitisation program.
The 125-strong academic publishers association has written to Google requesting clarification on 16 questions which they believe undermine the copyright protection of the libraries’ materials. The association is concerned about Google’s digital rights management of the scanned books – in particular, the assertion of acquiring a copyright interest in the digitised books, as well protection against misuse and mass distribution.
The programme has drawn criticism from publishers who are concerned that revenue from book sales will drop. Peter Givler, executive director of AAUP, said that Google’s explanations has increased confusion about its plans and says it “appears to involve systematic infringement of copyright on a massive scale.”
Google has said that only out-of-copyright books will be displayed, while only a ‘snippet’ of information and the contents pages of copyright books will be available for viewing. However, the AAUP is concerned as to how much of a ‘snippet’ will be viewed.
The £110 million Google Print for Libraries program was announced in December last year and involves digitally scanning universities’ library books to make them searchable online. It also involves scanning out-of-copyright books from Oxford University. Larry Page, Google co-founder and president of products, said at the time it was Google’s mission to ‘organise the world’s information’.
Politicians in France recently registered concern that the Google project will increase the global dominance of English and have secured European Union backing for a rival project to scan books not printed in English.