by Larry Neumeister)
Saying Google is stealing business from online book retailers, the Authors Guild asked a federal appeals court Friday to reinstate its lawsuit contending that the Internet giant is violating copyright laws with its massive book digitization project.
The Guild filed papers with the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan, saying that Google's effort to create the world's largest digital library was violating the rights of authors and stifling competition in the busy Internet book sales market.
Google declined to comment on the Authors Guild's effort to reverse a November ruling in favor of the Mountain View, Calif.-based company.
The Guild asked the court to hold Google liable and to return the case to the lower court for remedies. Its lawsuit sought $750 for each of the more than 20 million copyright books that Google has already copied.
"Google is yanking readers out of online bookstores," Authors Guild President Roxana Robinson said in a statement. "Google digitized authors' works in order to lure book buyers away from online booksellers to its turf, seeking to bring countless eyeballs to its ads."
She said Congress should create a national digital library.
In appeals arguments, Guild lawyers argued Google was also unfairly boosting its advertising revenues and stifling competition.
The Guild's lawyers said Google shocked the literary community in December 2004 when it launched its library project by partnering with some of the world's largest libraries "to gain free access to millions of copyright-protected books."
"Google emptied the shelves of libraries and delivered truckloads of printed books to scanning centers, where the books were converted into digital format," the Guild's lawyers said.
They wrote that the library project was designed to lure potential book purchasers away from online retailers like Amazon.com and drive them to Google.
But Judge Denny Chin concluded Google did not run afoul of copyright laws because it only shows snippets from the books in its database. He said it would be difficult for anyone to read any of the works in their entirety by repeatedly entering different search requests.
He also said the company's library project provided a "transformative purpose" by giving new life to out-of-print and old books that had been forgotten.
"In my view, Google Books provides significant public benefits," Chin wrote.
Associated Press Writer Michael Liedtke in San Francisco contributed to this report