The Association of American Publishers has asked Google for a six-month moratorium on its plan to digitize books from five major libraries--Harvard, Oxford, Stanford, University of Michigan and New York Public Library--to make them searchable online. The Association of American University Presses and others representing publishers and authors have also questioned the legality of Google's Print for Libraries project over copyright issues. Privacy advocates have also voiced concerns that Google may one day be in a position to keep track of people's book reading, buying and borrowing habits, which could be subject to government scrutiny.
On Tuesday, a Google representative said the company was contacting the concerned organizations to try to set up meetings to discuss the situation. "We want to make sure we understand thoroughly the issues and that they understand our program well?? before we come to any decision," said Susan Wojcicki, director of product management at Google. Google believes that its plan, which will limit exposure of copyrighted books to small excerpts, complies with copyright law and fair use doctrine, she said. "We believe that this is an opportunity to make books much more visible to users worldwide," particularly the 85 percent or more of books in libraries that are out of print, she said. "The goal is to focus on all the books that would otherwise not be accessible to readers."
Meanwhile, the French, who want Alexandre Dumas to get as much play online as Mark Twain, are planning their own digitizing project that would compete with Google's. Pas de probleme, is Google's response. "We want to find a way to work with them," Wojcicki said.