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NEW YORK — The Authors Guild and a Lincoln biographer, a children's book author, and a former Poet Laureate of the United States filed a class action suit today in federal court in Manhattan against Google over its unauthorized scanning and copying of books through its Google Library program. The suit alleges that the $90 billion search engine and advertising juggernaut is engaging in massive copyright infringement at the expense of the rights of individual writers.
Through its Library program, Google is reproducing works still under the protection of copyright as well as public domain works from the collection of the University of Michigan's library.
“This is a plain and brazen violation of copyright law,” said Authors Guild president Nick Taylor. “It's not up to Google or anyone other than the authors, the rightful owners of these copyrights, to decide whether and how their works will be copied.”
The individual plaintiffs are Herbert Mitgang, a former New York Times editorial writer and the author of numerous fiction and nonfiction books, including “The Fiery Trial: A Life of Lincoln,” published by Viking Press; Betty Miles, the award-winning author of many works for children and young adults, and the co-author of “Just Think,” published by Alfred A. Knopf; and Daniel Hoffman, the author and editor of many volumes of poetry, translation, and literary criticism, including “Barbarous Knowledge: Myth in the Poetry of Yeats, Graves and Muir” and “Striking the Stones,” both published by Oxford University Press. Mr. Hoffman was the 1973-74 Poet Laureate of the United States.
Google has agreements with four academic libraries — those of Stanford, Harvard, Oxford and the University of Michigan — and with the New York Public Library to create digital copies of substantial parts of their collections and to make those collections available for searching online. Google has not sought the approval of the authors of these works for this program.
The complaint seeks damages and an injunction to halt further infringements. The Authors Guild (www.authorsguild.org), the largest society of published writers in the United States, represents more than 8,000 authors.