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Oodles of woe for Google
By Xie Yu (China Daily)
Updated: 2009-10-23 08:23

Google may draw up a new settlement to put out its copyright fire in China, according to a statement sent to China Daily yesterday.

The Internet giant has come under attack in China for making digital copies of Chinese books and making them available online, despite the fact the books are still under copyright.

In its statement to China Daily, Google emphasized that "the scope of our US settlement is limited to the US and comes under US law and only US readers will benefit". The company said it will "listen carefully to all concerns and will work hard to address them".

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The statement reiterated that the goal of Google Books "remains bringing millions of the world's difficult-to-find, out-of-print books back to life".

Zhang Hongbo, deputy director-general of the China Written Works Copyright Society, said Google's reply to this issue was neither "clear" nor "satisfying".

"First, they still did not admit their copyright infringement," Zhang said. Even difficult-to-find or out-of-print books may still be under protection of copyright law, not to mention popular modern works, he said.

Google is facing complaints from Chinese authors for scanning their works into its digital library without permission. This is the latest battle between Google and copyright holders in the US, Europe and elsewhere over its ambitious project.

A rough estimate showed more than 18,000 books from 570 Chinese writers have been scanned by Google and included in its digital library, which is only open to netizens within the US borders. This was done without informing or paying most of the writers.

Zhang said nearly 80 authors have contacted his group, and entrusted them to get a fair settlement from Google.

"We want Google to admit its infringement, apologize, and authorize a formal negotiator to discuss specific compensation with Chinese authors," he said.

Reuters reported yesterday that Google countered by saying it had received permission from more than 50 Chinese publishers who allowed the US search giant to digitize more than 30,000 books.

Google has proposed a settlement in the US that authors who accept Google's scan would get $60 per book plus 63 percent of the income from online reading. China's copyright society has already made it clear that it is impossible for Chinese authors to accept the settlement.

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