A group representing Chinese authors has accused Google and their digital library of violating copyrights. Google disputes the claims saying that their online library service is in full compliance with international laws. Google has reportedly digitized at least 10 million books and many publishers and authors have filed lawsuits against the search giant for digitizing their works and copyright infringement. The China Written Works Copyright Society claims that Google scanned thousands of books written by Chinese authors without getting their permission and without providing compensation.
Chen Qirong, spokesperson for the CWWCS, said, “Whether you are a small company or big company you still need to respect the copyright of the authors.”
Google said that it had received permission to digitize more than 30,000 books from over 50 Chinese publishers to provide this content in search results and in previews.
“We believe the book search complies with international copyright law,” said Google representative Courtney Hohne.
Google’s ambitious plans to create a huge digital library has been praised by some and condemned by others here in the U.S. and abroad for copyright, antitrust and infringement of privacy. The alleged copyright violations are the latest in a series of controversies-real and imagined-that have made headlines in China for Google. The negative publicity has made it hard for the company to gain market share in the country where numbers of its users are well behind Chinese search giant Baidu.
In June 2009, Google was accused of spreading obscene content by a Chinese official one day after Gmail, Google’s search engine and other Google online services were made unavailable to many Chinese users for an undisclosed period. Pan Jian, the book section’s manager, said that recent searches on Google Books in China resulted in a warning that the site could contain malware that could harm the user’s computer. He said, “We got complaints from readers that they couldn’t access our channel via Google. We thought it might be related to our reporting on the conflict between Google Library and Chinese authors.”
A People’s Daily official said that users had been unable to access that part of the site because it had been “maliciously blocked by Google.”
A spokesperson for Google, Cui Jin, said that the People’s Daily assertions were “absolutely incorrect.” She said that the warning had been generated by software that was “an automatic function without any human interference.”
There are more than 338 million internet users in China. They are not allowed to access websites that their government’s internet filtering system decides is subversive or lewd. Surfers in China are blocked from sites that the rest of the world takes for granted like YouTube.com, numerous news outlets, porn sites and others.