This week has had some mixed results for Google Print. The good news: Google Print has rolled out additional efforts to serve European users. The bad news: the Google Print Library Project has attracted another lawsuit in the United States, this time from the Association of American Publishers, objecting to the company’s “opt out” approach for scanning copyright works.

Google Print goes to Europe…

Google is now operating local-languageGoogle Print sites for users in France, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium and Spain, enabling users to search books provided by local publishers, as well as English-language books already in the Library Project (for which Google has already secured local rights).

Google began approaching European publishers to participate in the Library Project in August. So far, participating publishers include: Grupo Planeta and Grupo Anaya of Spain, De Boeck and Editions De L’Eclat of France, and Springer Science & Business Media of Holland. Google has been presenting its Google Print efforts at the Frankfurt Book Fair this month, including participating in a panel discussion on competing book digitization projects. Also participating in the panel discussion is the president of the French National Library, who is promoting the creation of a European digitisation effort.

…and is sued (again) in the United States

In not such good news for the Google Print Library Project, the Association of American Publishers has sued Google over its plans to scan and index copyright-protected books. AAP has filed a lawsuit in federal court (the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York) on behalf of five major publishers (all members of AAP): The McGraw-Hill Companies, Pearson Education, Penguin Group (USA), Simon & Schuster and John Wiley & Sons.

This is the second such lawsuit in the past month or so; in September the Authors Guild, together with some individual authors, filed a class action against Google alleging copyright infringement, seeking damages and an injunction to stop scanning works for the Library Project. The AAP suit seeks recovery of legal costs only, and no damages.

The AAP lawsuit is reportedly a reaction to Google’s “opt out” approach to scanning copyright works, in which it has established a 1 November deadline for publishers to identify the books they do not wish included. As remarked in an earlier post, Google plans to scan entire books, but to allow users access to only limited excerpts. Google will provide information for users on where to locate copies of these works, including providing links to online booksellers, and (particularly in the case of out-of-print titles) relevant library information. In many instances, these links will mean increased revenues for publishers and authors.

Nonetheless, publishers are still concerned that Google is scanning entire works without explicit permission, and believe that the Library Project has unfairly placed the burden on copyright holders. (It is important to note that publishers have not objected to the broader Google Print program, in which no works are being scanned without explicit permission.) Google believes that permission is not necessary for the Library Project, and has pointed out that at any point (even after 1 November) copyright holders may ask for material to be removed.

The most recent lawsuit follows on the end of negotiations between AAP and Google. According to AAP, Google refused AAP’s proposal to use the ISBN (international standard book number) system to identify copyright books and seek permission from authors and publishers. Google did not favor this option, arguing that all books without ISBN numbers would not have been accessible through Google Print. AAP has noted that with the 1 November “deadline” around the corner, they were left with little choice but to bring legal action.

I would be very interested in seeing the text of both lawsuits. I am assuming that the core of the legal argument is that scanning entire copyright works without permission for the Library Project does not fall under the fair use defense–but I am just speculating.