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Authors Claim Their Books Are Being Abducted By Google
Posted: September 13th, 2011
By: Anna Gaysynsky
The copyright infringement law suit that is being pursued against US universities by foreign writers, highlights the ways in which the legal field is struggling to keep up with technology. Writers in Australia, Canada and the UK are suing US universities that are creating online libraries using books that have been scanned by Google. The University of Michigan online library that is at the center of the case is mostly made up of “orphan works” (out-of-print pieces whose authors could not be located), which are in a sort of legal limbo in regards to their use, and there are different interpretations for how the works are determined to be “orphaned” and how they can be exploited. The plaintiffs in this case are saying that the American Universities named in the suit have no right to digitize an author’s work without an author’s permission, and no authority to decide when authors’ their copyrights no longer apply. Furthermore, there is an international component to the debate, as different countries have different rules regarding copyright and because the way the universities determined which works were orphaned made it more difficult for foreign authors to be found, meaning they may have been unfairly stripped of their copyrights.
This lawsuit is an offshoot of a larger lawsuit that was launched against Google 6 years ago by the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers over its digital book archiving project. In March, Judge Denny Chin threw out a settlement deal proposed by Google , because it would give Google an “unfair advantage”, and a new hearing is scheduled for that lawsuit later this week.
James Grimmelmann, a Law Professor at New York Law School, stated that the Author’s Guild went after the university libraries in part because they object to the posting of the books online, and in part because the lawsuit against Google was falling apart.
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