Europe’s trade ministers have asked the European Commission executive to examine Google’s Books search project after Germany complained the site is illegal. A paper Germany handed to the council of ministers Thursday said Google (NSDQ: GOOG) had scanned books from US libraries without consent from rightsholders, including European authors: “Google’s actions are irreconcilable with the principles of European copyright law, according to which the consent of the author must be obtained before his or her works may be reproduced or made publicly available on the internet.”
Google is scanning books under America’s “fair use” copyright provision, which doesn’t exist in the UK, and, having been sued publishers in the US, is set to settle out of court by October- but Germany is upset that European authors published in the US will only retain the right not to be included in Google Books if they opt out of American publishers’ class action.
Germany’s paper also says Google Books threatens a publicly-funded, Europe-wide online database: “As a result of this behaviour, initiatives such as Europeana, which digitalise and make available on line copyrighted works only after prior consent has been obtained from the rights holder, have also lost ground.” Not everyone’s upset, though – Oxford University Press is amongst the European publishers to have works included.
(Photo: edans, some rights reserved)