Chinese authors turn up heat on Google over book scanning

The Chinese Authors Society demanded that Google present a resolution plan by the end of the year

A Chinese authors' group demanded late Wednesday that Google compensate writers whose books the U.S. company scanned without permission, cranking up tension in the country over Google's digital library project.

The demand marked the second time in just days that a U.S. company came under fire in China for intellectual property violations. A Chinese court this week ruled that Microsoft's use of certain Chinese fonts violated a local company's intellectual property rights and ordered Microsoft to stop selling versions of its operating system containing the fonts, including Windows XP.

The Chinese Authors Society demanded that Google present a resolution plan by the end of the year and quickly handle compensation for Chinese authors whose books the U.S. company scanned without permission. A local copyright protection group, co-founded by the authors group, has said it found at least 17,000 Chinese works included in Google's scanning plan.

Google's Book Search program, for which the company is scanning hundreds of thousands of books and placing parts of the contents online, has met legal challenges in other countries as well. In the U.S., authors and publishers launched a class-action lawsuit against the company in 2005. The parties last week gave the court a requested revision to their settlement agreement in the ongoing case.

The Chinese copyright group has held talks with Google about compensating copyright holders for the scanned books.

"Chinese authors have already patiently waited for a long time but have not yet seen a satisfactory result," a statement from the author group said. The group demanded that Google provide a full list of books by Chinese authors it has scanned and declared that Google could not scan any more Chinese works without permission.

Google did not reply to a request for comment.

Legal action by Chinese companies to protect their intellectual property rights is increasingly common, but piracy remains widespread in the country. Pirated books, DVDs and computer programs such as Windows 7 are widely sold in bazaars and on street corners.

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Owen Fletcher

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