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Authors Sue for Seizure of 7 Million Books at U.S. Universities

The Authors Guild, a U.S. advocacy group, is leading a copyright infringement lawsuit seeking seizure of 7 million books digitized by Google Inc. and stored at five colleges including the University of Michigan.

The writers, including the Australian Society of Authors and the Quebec Writers Union, sued yesterday in federal court in New York claiming the universities obtained unauthorized scans of the copyright-protected books. The University of Michigan plans to release next month 27 works by French, Russian and American authors that it deems “orphans” for free downloads to about 250,000 students and faculty, according to the lawsuit.

“This is an upsetting and outrageous attempt to dismiss authors rights,” Angelo Loukakis, executive director of the Australian Society of Authors, said in a statement on the guild’s website.

The lawsuit comes after a U.S. judge gave Google and a group of publishers and authors more time in July to try and negotiate a settlement of a legal dispute over the search-engine company’s digital reproduction of books. The Mountain View, California-based company was sued in 2005 by authors and publishers who said the company was infringing their copyrights by digitizing books and allowing “snippets” of them online.

The case is The Authors Guild Inc. against HathiTrust. File No. 11-cv-6351. United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (New York).

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