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November 5, 2009

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Writers still want Google's apology

CHINESE writers yesterday said they appreciated search engine firm Google's move to talk with them, but maintained their demand for an apology for copyright violation.

"Some progress was made during the talks with Google officials on Monday," said Zhang Hongbo, deputy director of the China Written Works Copyright Society, a non-governmental organization that represents writers on copyright issues.

"Such communication itself is positive to resolving the problem," he said. "We appreciate attempts to promote China's excellent works internationally in digital form. What we are against is doing that illegally with infringement and piracy."

The second round of talks is likely to be held in mid-November, Zhang said. "A consultant group of experts on intellectual property rights and network technologies would join the CWWCS in the coming talks."

Google's Beijing office confirmed that negotiation had been held with the CWWCS but did not give further details.

More than 50 writers have signed a letter demanding an apology and compensation from Google.

They accused Google of scanning more than 18,000 books by 570 Chinese writers without notice and payment.

"The first goal of our actions and talks is to urge Google to admit and apologize for its infringement," Zhang said.

Although Google admitted at the talks on Monday it had scanned more than 20,000 books under Chinese copyright for its online library, the company still denied any copyright violation, Zhang said.

Erik Hartmann, the Asia-Pacific head of Google Books, said in a statement to Xinhua that the company had obtained authorization from the publishers and libraries in the United States. He said Google did not use the works directly for profit.

Zhang replied: "Not all the writers have transferred their online copyright to the publishers in their contracts.

"So Google cannot get authorization for every book simply from its publisher."

Google offered to pay US$60 for each scanned book and 63 percent of income from online reading in the United States.

But Zhang said the CWWCS would not accept such settlement.


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