December 29, 2009

Google Books to be sued by a Chinese author

A Chinese author plans to sue Google for scanning one of her books into the Google Books database without her permission, according to a report.

Mian Mian intends to file suit this week against Google, claiming copyright infringement after discovering that her third book, “Acid Lovers”, was scanned by Google as part of its book digitization project, according to AFP. The suit would be the first filed against Google in China over the Google Books project, which itself is no stranger to the courtroom.

Legal battles over Google’s U.S. settlement with authors and publishers will stretch into 2010, nearly 15 months after Google first reached an agreement with those groups to allow it to continue scanning out-of-print but copyright-protected works. Google is the only organization with explicit permission to scan that type of book, which it has been doing since 2005 while claiming that fair-use laws permit such activity. (The rules governing its ability to display to that kind of book in Google Books are more convoluted.)

That settlement, however, applies only to the U.S. and a few other English-speaking countries. Reports surfaced a few months ago that Chinese authors were thinking about ganging up on Google, which is apparently in talks with representatives of those groups but has yet to reach a formal agreement.

The U.S. settlement is still on track for a February hearing to decide whether the revised settlement–completed under the Department of Justice’s watch–should be approved.

Earlier this month, a French court ordered Google to pay 300,000 euros (US$430,000) in damages and interest to French company La Martiniere, which had sued the tech giant for copyright infringement for scanning book excerpts to include in its Google Book search results.

This article was first published as a blog post on CNET News.

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