September 24, 2009 / 4:17 PM / 10 years ago

German book trade slams EU stance on Google books

FRANKFURT, Sept 24 (Reuters) - The German book trade slammed European regulators on Thursday for failing to take a stand against an agreement allowing U.S. internet company Google (GOOG.O) to create an online library.

Google has agreed a settlement with U.S. publishers who had accused Google of copyright infringement for scanning libraries full of books but, last week, the U.S. Justice Department urged a New York court to reject the deal.

“It is shameful that the European Union did not write a letter like the U.S. Department of Justice did,” Cristian Sprang, legal advisor to the German book trade association, told a news conference.

Germany has been one of the most outspoken opponents of the settlement — under which Google would put up $125 million to create a book-rights registry to locate and pay rights-holders — and of the whole Google Books project.

Google has so far scanned about 10 million books through deals with libraries, publishers and authors but not always with permission from rights-holders of out-of-print books who are hard to find.

Critics say the proposed settlement runs contrary to copyright law, as it removes the onus on Google to track down copyright owners for such “orphan works”.

Google has said that books currently only accessible by a few people libraries will be universally available.

Following the DOJ filing, authors and publishers this week asked the judge to delay until Nov. 6 a hearing on whether to approve the controversial Google books settlement scheduled for Oct. 7. The request was unopposed by Google. [ID:nN22359664]

The DOJ argued there was a “significant potential” it would eventually decide the settlement broke antitrust law. [ID:nN18258367] (Reporting by Nicola Leske; Editing by Dan Lalor)

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