September 21, 2005, 08:55 BST
The search giant stands accused of 'a plain and brazen violation of copyright law' over its plan to digitise the world's books
A group representing more than 8,000 authors on Tuesday filed a lawsuit against search engine Google, alleging that its scanning and digitising of library books constitutes a "massive" copyright infringement.
As part of its Google Print Library Project, the company is working to scan all or parts of the book collections of the University of Michigan, Harvard University, Stanford University, the New York Public Library and Oxford University. It intends to make those texts searchable on Google and to sell advertisements on the Web pages.
"This is a plain and brazen violation of copyright law," Nick Taylor, president of the group, the New York-based Authors Guild, said in a statement about the lawsuit, which is seeking class action status. "It's not up to Google or anyone other than the authors, the rightful owners of these copyrights, to decide whether and how their works will be copied."
Last month, Google said it would temporarily halt its book scanning in the project in response to criticism from publishers and others. It said at the time that it also was making changes to its Google Print Publisher Program, in which books are scanned at the request of the publisher so people can view excerpts.
The individual plaintiffs in the lawsuit, which seeks damages and an injunction to stop the digitising, are former New York Times editorial writer Herbert Mitgang, children's author Betty Miles and Daniel Hoffman, the 1973-1974 Poet Laureate of the United States.
Google did not respond to an e-mail seeking comment on the lawsuit.
(Google representatives have instituted a policy of not talking with CNET News.com reporters until July 2006 in response to privacy issues raised b a previous story.)