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Google Offers Free Downloads Of Books

Citing fair use exemptions, Google releases new feature that allows users to download and copy entire books, which is raising the ire of authors and publishers.

Google on Wednesday started offering free downloads of out-of-copyright books from its library partners, which include Harvard, the New York Public Library and the University of California.

The complete work of such classics as Dante's "Inferno" and Isaac Newton's "Principia" are available in PDF format through Google Book Search.

Out-of-copyright books have been available for reading online through Book Search. The new feature, however, makes it possible for people to store books on their computers and make copies. The available public domain books include both well-known classics and lesser-known scholarly works.

Sidney Verba, director of the Harvard University Library, said Google's initiative to digitize library collections opens up a treasure chest of information on historical events, places of interest and matters cultural or scientific that was previously difficult for most people to find.

"What has been tucked away in large research library collections and available only to a few, can now be discovered and read by people everywhere," Verba said in a joint statement with Google.

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