Wednesday 30 December 2009

Google face Chinese author's claim

Chinese novelist Mian Mian, who is suing Google in China for scanning and publishing part of her novel “Acid Lover”, has been told by a Bejing court that both she and Google must hold talks on a settlement and then report back to the court. The Shanghai-based author whose books about love affairs, drug abuse and suicide are routinely banned in China, is suing Google for a public apology and 60,000 yuan (about 6,000 Euros). Mian Mian's lawyer Sun Jingwei has acknowledged that Google had already removed Acid Lover from its library and has said that the author is open to negotiating a settlement with the company, but that the author's requirement of an apology is non-negotiable. Sun accepted Acid Lover was never published by Google in its entirety, but argued that because the company profits from publishing excerpts, it is an infringement to scan and use contents of the book without prior permission from the author saying "Google scanned and uploaded the books first and then turned to authors for settlement" adding "This is not reasonable. You should settle the issue first and then scan and upload the books, not committing infringement first.

The China Written Works Copyright Society is also looking for compensation for other Chinese authors whose works are included in Google’s online project and Mian’s lawsuit comes just two weeks after a Paris court ordered Google to stop digitising French books without the publisher's approval. The search engine was also told to pay 300,000 euros (£268,000) in damages and interest to French company La Martiniere, which had sued for copyright infringement for scanning book excerpts (see Hugo Cox’s post on this blog on December 18th) as part of the Google Books project. In the US, Google has agreed a $125m settlement with authors and publishers - although the settlement is still waiting final court approval.

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