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Writers Guild Confident In Suing Google

Despite contrary opinions from some legal experts, the Authors Guild on Wednesday said it was confident that it would win its copyright-infringement lawsuit against search engine giant Google Inc.

The guild and three authors, including a U.S. Poet Laureate, filed the class-action suit Tuesday in federal court in New York. The plaintiffs claim Google's initiative to electronically copy library books without first getting permission from copyright holders is a "massive" infringement of the rights of writers.

"I don't think it's particularly close under copyright law," Paul Aiken, executive director of the guild, said. "You're not allowed to copy works for commercial purposes without a license, and that's precisely what they're doing."

The source of the controversy is Google's initiative to digitize and store in its database books from the libraries of Harvard, Stanford, the University of Michigan, the University of Oxford and the New York Public Library. The purpose, according to Google, is to eventually build a searchable virtual card catalog of all books in all languages.

In response to the lawsuit, the Mountain View, Calif., search-engine giant, which accounts for more than half of all searches on the Web, focused on what it perceives as the social benefit of the project.

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