Chinese authors accuse Google of copyright theft

A group representing authors in China has accused Google of violating copyrights with its digital library.

Many major publishers and authors have taken up lawsuits against Google for its digitisation of their works, accusing Google of copyright infringement. Google has already digitised 10 million books.

The China Written Works Copyright Society (CWWCS) believes Google scanned thousands of books, by over 500 Chinese authors, into its digital library without their permission or compensation, said spokesman Chen Qirong. “Whether you are a small company or big company you still need to respect the copyright of the authors,” Chen said.

Google countered by saying it had received permission from more than 50 Chinese publishers who allowed the US search giant to digitise more than 30,000 books to be found through internet searches and for preview.

“We believe the book search complies with international copyright law,” said Google spokeswoman Courtney Hohne.

Google’s plan to create a massive digital library has been praised for bringing broad access to books but has also been criticised on antitrust, copyright and privacy grounds.

The fresh controversy is the latest in a string of operational problems in China for Google, which lags homegrown titan Baidu in China’s search market.

In June, a Chinese official accused Google of spreading obscene content over the internet. The comments came a day after Google.com, Gmail and other Google online services became inaccessible to many users in China.

Piracy is rampant in China where media are frequently censored over content on sensitive subjects.

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