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September 13, 2011

Authors claim American universities got unauthorised book scans from Google

Lawsuit filed in US claims copyright infringement by five US universities

By CBR Staff Writer

The Authors Guild and writers from Britain, Australia and Canada have filed a complaint in a US District court accusing five US universities and the HathiTrust digital library project of copyright infringement.

The complaint alleges that the universities got unauthorised scans from Google of around seven million copyright-protected books and that the universities, through the HathiTrust consortium, plan to allow unlimited downloads of the "orphan" works.

"By digitising, archiving, copying and now publishing the copyrighted works without the authorisation of those works’ rights holders, the universities are engaging in one of the largest copyright infringements in history," the lawsuit said.

Executive director of the Australian Society of Authors Angelo Loukakis said, ""Maybe it doesn’t seem like it to some, but writing books is an author’s real-life work and livelihood. This group of American universities has no authority to decide whether, when or how authors forfeit their copyright protection."

Loukakis added, "These aren’t orphaned books, they’re abducted books."

The universities accused of copyright infringement are the University of Michigan, the University of California, the University of Wisconsin, Indiana University, and Cornell University.

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The lawsuit seeks to confiscate the digitised works along with other unspecified damages.

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