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Authors groups sue over digitizing copyright-protected books

Three authors groups on Monday sued [complaint, PDF; press release] HathiTrust [official website] and five universities in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York [official website] over the digitizing of millions of copyright-protected books. The universities received permission from Google [corporate website] to scan approximately 7 million copyright-protected books and started a program allowing unlimited downloads for students and faculty of certain protected book deemed "orphans" by the university. The first group of 27 "orphan" books is scheduled to be released on October 13 to approximately 250,000 students. An additional 140 books will be released in November. The complaint alleged:

The Universities have directly caused millions of works that are protected by copyright to be scanned, stored in digital format, repeatedly copied and made available online for various uses. These actions not only violate the exclusive rights of copyright holders to authorize the reproduction and distribution of their works but, by creating at least two databases connected to the Internet that store millions of digital copies of copyrighted books, the Universities risk the widespread, unauthorized and irreparable dissemination of those works.
Plaintiffs seek an injunction to prevent defendants from systematically reproducing, distributing and/or displaying the plaintiffs' copyrighted books without permission.

Google's library scanning project is the focus of another federal lawsuit in New York, with a hearing scheduled for September 15. In March, the US District Court for the Southern District of New York rejected [JURIST report] the amended class action settlement agreement between Google and groups of authors and publishers who brought a copyright suit [case materials] in 2005 against the Internet giant over its book-scanning initiative [Google Book Search website]. The settlement was reached after over two years of negotiations between Google and the Authors Guild, a group seeking to preserve copyright protection for authors, and other plaintiffs including the Association of American Publishers (AAP), McGraw-Hill, Penguin Group and Simon & Schuster.

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