Learning English - Words in the News
27 May, 2005 - Published 09:16 GMT
Google accused of breaching copyright rules
The internet search group Google has been accused of breaching copyright rules on a massive scale through a plan to make the contents of university libraries easily available to anyone with an online connection. This report from Mark Gregory:
Last year Google announced deals with five of the world's top universities, including Harvard and Oxford, to scan much of the contents of their libraries into the internet. The idea was to make millions of important but previously inaccessible texts available to researchers everywhere with a few clicks of the mouse.
The head of Oxford University's library service said the project could turn out to be almost as important as the invention of the printing press. Google meanwhile claimed its motives were purely altruistic, the realisation of a longstanding dream for the group's billionaire founders Sergey Page and Larry Brin who'd worked on a digital library project during their student days.
But from the start Google's plan met opposition. The latest sign of this is a letter to Google from the American Association of University Presses which represents non profit making academic publishers. The organisation wants clarification on sixteen issues, claiming the book scanning scheme appears to involve systematic infringement of copyright on a massive scale.
Other opposition has come from France, where there are fears that the Google project will enhance of the dominance of the English language and Anglo-Saxon ways of thinking. France and several other European countries recently got EU backing for a rival book scanning project for works not in English.
Supporters of the Google scheme say copyright is protected because many of the works being initially scanned in are old texts not by living authors, and where copyright is an issue only a list of the contents and a few sentences from the text will be available on the internet.
Mark Gregory, BBC
turn out to be
the realisation of a longstanding dream
infringement of copyright