Google subpoenas Yahoo, others in copyright suits

Posted by Mark Raby

Chicago (IL) - According to a media reports, Google is planning to subpoena Yahoo, Microsoft, and Amazon for documents pertaining to the copyright infringement suit brought against Google over its book-scanning project.

Microsoft and Yahoo announced plans for similar projects in 2005. They are part of the Open Content Alliance, an organization devoted to creating a permanent archive of various texts. It includes Britain's National Archives and the University of California.

Through the subpoenas, Google hopes to find information, including the copyright status, of books that have been scanned and are a part of the projects from the rival sites. Amazon allows viewers to see selected material from books before purchasing them, although publishers must consent to this beforehand.

Publishers and authors have sued Google because they have been posting copyrighted material from books on their site, without permission. Google contends that the entire scope of the project is in compliance with copyright law because only partial content is available to the public.

"We have also made clear to these organizations that we will work with them to address any concerns about their confidential information," said Google spokeswoman Megan Lamb.

Subpoena notices were filed on 26 and 29 September. A U.S. District Judge ordered that the acquired information be confidential and used for litigation purposes only.

Google's book scanning project currently includes books from seven libraries, including Stanford and Harvard. Google apparently has published content without consent from the individual copyright holders of the books, but the company says say that publishers may opt out of the project. This is unlike MSN's project, which focuses exclusively on out-of-copyright and non-copyrighted material, and similar projects from Amazon and Yahoo, which require consent from the publishers ahead of time.