Legal issues delay libraries' Google move

Australian libraries are likely to continue resisting calls from Google to have their collections digitised and made available for search until the Web giant settles disputes with bodies representing copyright holders in the United States.A Google spokesperson told ZDNet Australia  that although some local publishers have opened up their catalogues to the search giant, Australian libraries have so far resisted its overtures.

Australian libraries are likely to continue resisting calls from Google to have their collections digitised and made available for search until the Web giant settles disputes with bodies representing copyright holders in the United States.

A Google spokesperson told ZDNet Australia  that although some local publishers have opened up their catalogues to the search giant, Australian libraries have so far resisted its overtures.

"There are already publishers in Australia that are providing their catalogues to Google -- that is an open program and any publisher can take part in it. The library project is open as well but as far as I am aware no [libraries] in Australia are involved," the spokesperson said.

The Google spokesperson admitted that the initiative, labelled the Print Library Project, has caused controversy but he said Australian libraries are keen on the idea.

"The whole library project has been quite contentious in the US because some copyright owners have not been fully supportive of the methodologies... but there is a lot of interest from libraries," the spokesperson said.

Warwick Cathro, assistant director-general of innovation at the National Library of Australia, agreed that libraries are looking forward to working with Google -- and other companies -- to digitise their catalogues, but he admitted that legal uncertainties are a problem.

"A lot of libraries will generally support the initiative," Cathro told ZDNet Australia. "None of us wants to break the law or assist in the law being broken, so to that extent we would like to see the court case resolve the legal issues".

The Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers filed a suit in the US last year against Google, arguing that making a full copy of a copyright book available, even just for searching purposes, infringes on the rights of copyright holders.

Google is working hard to keep Australian libraries interested while it attempts to iron out its copyright issues. Just last month, Dan Clancy, who heads up Google Print, was a keynote speaker at the Victorian Association for Library Automation (VALA) 2006 conference in Melbourne.

CNET News.com's Anne Broache contributed to this report.

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