Great Ormond Street children's hospital is worried that that Google's online publishing scheme could cost it much-needed income.
The hospital, which receives all the royalties from sales and performances of Peter Pan in the UK, fears that it could suffer a drop in revenue if Google includes the children's classic in its plan to scan, digitise and make searchable the world's books.
Great Ormond Street Hospital Children's Charity has received royalties from Peter Pan since 1929. An Act of Parliament, passed in 1988, extended the book's copyright indefinitely. If people stopped buying the book, and accessed it through Google's service, the hospital — which cares for seriously ill children — fears it could lose millions of pounds.
A spokesman for Great Ormond Street said he hadn't had a chance to view the site yet but hoped Google would think twice before publishing the book. "I wouldn't be surprised if Google do this, but it will rob the hospital of a major core of its charity revenue," he said.
Great Ormond Street's fears may be unfounded though. Peter Pan is already freely available online through Project Gutenberg, which catalogues books whose copyright has expired in the US — where the Hospital's copyright does not apply.
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Google has also said it will only show small portions of copyright-protected books, if the copyright-holder has opted-out of Google Print. But this hasn't stopped the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers filing lawsuits claiming Google is violating copyright by scanning entire books that are under copyright.
Google book scanning project has courted controversy since its inception in 2004. In August 2005 it said it was temporarily halting scanning books after facing stiff opposition from publishers and the prospect of a massive copyright suit.The scheme is due to start again in November after Google made time for copyright holders to contact it and opt out.
Google had not responded to requests for comment at the time of writing.