* Google says will share some digital books with rivals
* Copyright register opposed to Google scan project
(Adds Google concession to rivals, comment)
By Diane Bartz
WASHINGTON, Sept 10 Google Inc (GOOG.O),
criticized for scanning books without copyright permission, has
said it would open its digital library to rivals and
bookstores, the search engine giant said on Thursday.
Google made the announcement at a hearing of the U.S. House
of Representatives Judiciary Committee that had been called to
discuss criticism of a 2008 settlement between the Authors
Guild and Google on the grounds the deal to allow Google's
massive scanning project created antitrust concerns, infringed
copyrights and potentially posed privacy concerns.
"Google will host the digital (out-of-print) books online,
and retailers such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble or your local
bookstore will be able to sell access to users on any Internet-
connected device they choose," Google said in a statement.
The announcement would affect most of the books available
through the Google book scan project since most authors with
books in print would decide not to sell through Google, said
Paul Aiken, head of the Authors Guild.
Asked if this was a major change in the deal, David
Drummond, Google's chief legal officer, told Reuters: "It is
and it isn't. We always had this vision that we were going to
In the hearing itself, Google came under tough criticism
from Marybeth Peters, register of copyrights for the U.S.
Copyright Office, who told the committee that Google's plan to
digitize millions of books as part of a class action settlement
wrongly creates a virtually compulsory license for books.
Peters said the Copyright Office originally viewed the
agreement as positive, but soon shifted its view because the
class action settlement covered future behavior instead of just
redressing past actions.
"The settlement would alter the landscape of copyright
law," she told lawmakers in written testimony. "The settlement
would bind authors, publishers, their heirs and successors to
these rules, even though Google has not yet scanned and may
never scan their works."
Peters argued Google would inappropriately be allowed to
put out-of-print books on Google Books without seeking
permission from the copyright holders.
For Google to show entire books without permission is
"indisputably an act of copyright infringement," she said.
Peters also argued that non-U.S. authors were included in
the class, sometimes because one copy of a book was in a
research library. Germany and France oppose the proposed
In his testimony, Google's Drummond said Google was "fully
compliant with copyright law."
Google's plan to scan entire research libraries prompted a
2005 lawsuit filed by the Authors Guild, accusing Google of
copyright infringement. A proposed settlement to resolve the
lawsuit will be discussed on Oct. 7 in Manhattan federal
Rival companies, privacy advocates and some libraries and
small publishers have accused Google of violating antitrust law
to dominate the digital book market. The U.S. Justice
Department is looking into their concerns.
The case is Authors Guild et al v Google Inc 05-08136 in
U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York
(Reporting by Diane Bartz; editing by Gerald E. McCormick and