EC to discuss US Google book scanning deal


EC to discuss US Google book scanning deal

Warwick Ashford

The European Commission meets today to discuss its response to Google's deal with US authors and publishers to scan, catalogue and electronically archive millions of books.

The meeting will be attended by publishers, authors, librarians and other stakeholders.

European publishers are concerned that they have not had enough say in the US settlement, according to the Financial Times.

Google reached an agreement in October to create a $125m fund to pay US authors to have their work scanned and made available online.

The internet firm has defended its position by highlighting the benefits to readers of putting millions of books online.

But Google has reportedly made some concessions such as agreeing to consult European publishers before including European works in its digital library, but European concerns remain.

These include concerns that different national rules will hamper co-operation, putting the US ahead of Europe in online knowledge and that Google's head-start will cut out European organisations.

Supporters of digitisation would like the EU to support the US agreement and formulate a similar European agreement to promote the digitisation of its cultural heritage.

But opponents have raised concerns about a single US company acting as a repository of European culture instead of Europe's publicly funded digitisation initiative, called Europeana.

Until agreement is reached across Europe, Google's automatic scanning will be limited books whose authors have been dead for more than 70 years and are not covered by copyright.

Google will have to obtain consent from each of the rights owners for any European books still in print or covered by copyright.

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