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Google Should Pay $750 a Book, Authors Say in E-Book Suit

Authors suing Google Inc. over the digitizing of books asked a judge to order the company to pay $750 a book for illegal copying and distribution of their works, according to a court filing today.

Google is being sued over its plan, announced in 2004, to scan millions of books from public and university libraries to provide snippets of text to people who use its Internet search engine. A Manhattan federal judge in May rejected Google’s argument that lawsuits by the Authors Guild and the American Society of Media Photographers should be dismissed because the groups lacked standing to sue for copyright infringement.

The Authors Guild today asked the judge for a ruling in its favor on three legal issues, one of which is a claim for damages of $750 a book. The guild also says it wants a ruling that copying books isn’t a “fair use” under copyright law, as Google has said it will argue.

Last month, Mountain View, California-based Google sought dismissal of the Authors Guild’s suit, arguing that authors benefit from the project because their books can be more readily found, bought and read, while the public gains “increased knowledge.”

University Libraries

Google said in a February filing that it has scanned more than 20 million books, and that Web users can see excerpts in English from more than 4 million of them. The project began with the digitizing of books from the libraries of the University of Michigan, Harvard University, Stanford University, Oxford University and the New York Public Library.

The Authors Guild, individual authors and publishing companies sued in 2005, claiming Google hadn’t sought authorization from the owners of the digitized works.

Besides the guild, the plaintiffs include authors Joseph Goulden, Betty Miles and Jim Bouton, the former New York Yankee who wrote “Ball Four.”

The authors’ case is Authors Guild v. Google, 05-08136, and the visual artists’ case is American Society of Media Photographers v. Google, 10-cv-02977, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

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