Authors, Libraries Gain Allies In Tiff With Google Books With Microsoft, Yahoo, Amazon

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Microsoft, Yahoo and Amazon plan to join a coalition fighting Google Books, known as the Open Book Alliance, while numerous other academic, library and writers' organizations reportedly plan to follow suit, The Wall Street Journal reported.

They will be joined by the Special Libraries Association, the New York Library Association and the American Society of Journalists and Authors, which are also planning to become Open Book Alliance members, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The groups later plan to voice their concerns about antitrust issues related to the Google Books initiative to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Opposition to Google Books started to gain traction after Google reached a court settlement with several major publishers and industry regulators that gave the search engine giant the right to scan and offer millions of books on the Web. As part of the deal, Google retains unfettered rights to thousands of out-of-print and orphaned works—works without a known copyright holder.

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So far, Google has compiled 1 million books with expired copyrights in its Google Books project and plans to scan millions more.

"This deal has enormous, far-reaching anticompetitive consequences that people are just beginning to wake up to," said Gary Reback, an antitrust attorney who heads the Open Book Alliance coalition, according to The New York Times .

Google has been known for taking over everything it sees, and online publishing doesn't immediately appear to be any different. In October 2008, Google agreed to allow libraries free and unlimited access to its online collection, while charging universities and other organizations a monthly subscription fee. Google also planned to charge individual consumers a fee for online access to out-of-print books.

However, critics argue that the settlement gives Google too many exclusive rights to the published materials, including the power to control the sale and distribution of out-of-print works. Critics also contend that the agreement gives Google the ability to control how out-of-print works are displayed, and could give the Mountain View, Calif.-based company the legal ability to censor works at their discretion.

The Authors Guild had originally accused Google of "massive copyright infringement," while other authors, copyright and academic organizations argue that as the sole rights-holder of orphaned works, other publishers would likely have to enter into heavy negotiations with Google over the use and copyright fees for the works that it publishes on its site.