China backs writers in fight against Google Books

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The Independent Culture

China said Google has probably breached copyright laws by scanning Chinese books for its online library and supported writers to "defend their rights", state media reported Tuesday.

"I personally think Google is probably involved in copyright infringement," said Wang Ziqiang, a director-general of the National Copyright Administration, according to the Beijing News.

"We support Chinese writers, the China Written Works Copyright Society and the Chinese Writers' Association to defend their rights based on the law and facts."

Wang added that he had "failed to find any solid evidence" to support Google's claim that its scanning and browsing service was legal.

His comments came after the two Chinese writers' groups accused Google of scanning the works of members without authorisation and have demanded it pay compensation "as soon as possible".

According to the copyright society, at least 17,922 books by 570 Chinese authors have been added to Google Books, the US Internet giant's controversial project to digitise millions of books and post them online.

In an effort to resolve the dispute, Google sent a representative to meet the Chinese copyright last Friday, but the outcome of the discussions has not been released.

The Google Books project has also raised objections from authors and publishers in the United States, France, Germany and others.

Google and US authors and publishers reached a settlement last year over a copyright infringement suit filed in 2005.

Under the settlement, Google agreed to pay 125 million dollars to resolve outstanding claims and establish an independent unit to provide revenue from sales and advertising to authors and publishers who agree to digitise their books.

But the two sides submitted a revised settlement earlier this month to a US judge after reservations by the US Justice Department about the original agreement forced the parties to go back to the drawing board.

The judge has set February 18 for a hearing on the revised settlement.

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