Google faces legal action from authors over online library plans

LONDON - Google is facing legal action in the US from authors furious about the search engine giant's latest brand extension involving the digitising of millions of books worldwide.

The Authors Guild has filed a lawsuit in the US District Court in Manhattan over infringement of copyright  and is taking the action as part of a campaign to curb attempts by websites to make books available for free on the internet.

It is particularly concerned about attempts by Google to digitise library collections. Last December, Google announced its library initiative, involving the digitising of work from the New York Public Library and a number of university libraries, including Harvard and Michigan.

A Google spokesman said that for copyrighted work only excerpts are available and the aim is to encourage users to buy books or visit the libraries themselves.

It added that the views of any copyright holder wanting excerpts removed will be adhered to and the full text of only non-copyrighted work will be made available.

"This is part of Google's mission to better organise information," the spokesman said, adding that a promotional campaign was now under way in the UK among publishing houses, to encourage them to supply text to the service. 

Google latest literary services also include Google Print, which allows users to access excerpts from books and Google Scholar, which specialises in academic work.

Meanwhile Google is set to launch a WiFi Service and has already started promoting a service called Google Secure Access on its site.

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