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The Google logo on a director's chair
Is Google trying to move into the cultural director's chair?Image: AP

Cultural Takover

DPA news agency (sms)
October 30, 2008

German book publishers denounced a historic accord between Google and US authors, dubbing it trick that would make the US company the master of the world's knowledge.


The Boersenverein, the German booksellers and publishers association which has bitterly opposed Google for years, rejected the accord as a "creeping takeover."

"This accord is like a Trojan Horse," Alexander Skipis, chief executive of the Boersenverein, said in a statement on Thursday, Oct. 30. "Google aims to achieve worldwide control of knowledge and culture.

"In the name of cultural diversity, this American model is out of the question for Europe," he said, adding that it contradicted "the European ideal of diversity through competition."

A pile of books
Google has already digitized some 7 million booksImage: AP

The Boersenverein has funded a pay-for-use book-scanning service for German-language books, Libreka.

Google, which has scanned 7 million books to include their contents in its Internet search engine, announced Tuesday it would let US users read the pages of books that are out of print but are still in copyright.

Under the settlement with the US Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers, royalties will be paid for past and future use of the books by Google.

Millions of the books are outdated and their authors dead, so a Google-funded book registry will be set up to discover who now owns the copyrights. Google said it hoped to reach similar deals to benefit Europe and Asia.

In the United States the Google accord has been widely welcomed, since the bulk of books existing today are hard to obtain, as they are no longer on sale and uneconomic to reprint though their copyrights have not expired.

At US public libraries, those books from recent decades will be visible in their entirety on library computers, while 20 per cent of those books will be visible to home users.

For readers in the rest of the world, Google will only be showing about two lines of text at a time.

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