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September 8, 2009

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Home » Business » IT

Google tries to calm Europeans

INTERNET search leader Google Inc said yesterday it is trying to placate European publishers about worries over its Google Books project, which aims to put many hard-to-find books online.

Google plans to sell in the United States digital versions of out-of-print books that are still in US copyright as part of its Google Books digital library project. Under a settlement with US authors and publishers, this will cover all books unless the copyright holders object.

That agreement doesn't cover Europe and has raised hackles among European authors, publishers and libraries for very different reasons.

Google sought to assure European copyright holders that the deal wouldn't infringe their rights, saying it wrote to several national publisher associations "to clarify that books that are commercially available in Europe will be treated as commercially available under the settlement."

This aims to calm fears that the English-language version of a book originally published in a European language could be listed as out-of-print in the US and sold online without explicit consent from the European copyright holder.

Google said in a statement that it would only display such books to US users "if expressly authorized by rights holders."

The European Commission will hold a hearing to examine the effect of Google's 10-month settlement with US authors and publishers on copyright holders in the European Union.

Unlike in the US, Google is only scanning European books over 150 years of age to avoid infringing copyright.



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