Authors call on Google to pay for digital books

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Authors call on Google to pay for digital books

$750 fine proposed.

Authors suing Google over the digitisation of their books have asked a New York court to order a $US750 ($AU709.55) fine for each book it copied, distributed or displayed.

The Authors Guild filing was lodged in the US federal court last month, but was only made public on Friday.

In an emailed statement, a spokeswoman for Google said the company believed its Google Books product constituted fair use "by allowing users to identify interesting books and find ways to borrow or buy those books, much like a card catalog for the digital age".

But Authors Guild president — novelist-lawyer Scott Thurow — urged the court to rule that Google's digitisation project did not constitute "fair use" under copyright law.

Litigation over Google's digitisation project began seven years ago after Google began copying millions of books thanks to an agreement with libraries, including those at Harvard University, Oxford University and Stanford University.

Google has scanned more than 20 million books since the agreement was made in 2004.

In March 2011, a federal judge rejected a $125 million settlement in the case. In May this year, the authors were granted class action status.

Google founder Larry Page and former executive Marissa Meyer began the Books project, originally called Print, as a manual scanning experiment to determine work out how long it would take to digitise entire works.

However, both Page and co-founder Sergey Brin had worked on a similar project in 1996 — at the same time as they established Google — at Stanford University.

The concept was built on the notion that a web crawler would be able to discover the books as well as any connections between the works, their releveance and usefulness, and quality of citations from other books.

Google is currently working with libraries globally for the Books project. The search interface is available in 35 different languages.

(Reporting by Rebecca Hamilton; editing by Andre Grenon)

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