The European Commission is considering the implications of the Google (GOOG) Books deal for European publishers. If the agreement goes into effect in the U.S., it would put European students, scholars and academics at a serious disadvantage. 

This is because many out-of-print publications would become available to the U.S. public that would remain unavailable to Europeans. The difference in copyright laws in the U.S. and Europe further widens the gap. Books published before 1923 are considered to be out of copyright in America and could, therefore, be scanned by Google, whereas in most European countries they have to be published before 1870 to qualify. 

The Commission has highlighted the need for increased book digitization in European Union (EU) member countries. The EU has its own publicly funded digital publishing project called the Europeana. Although the Europeana has scanned more than four million books, it is estimated that a mere 1% of the books in the national libraries of the 27 member states have been digitized so far. 

Most of the objections in Europe mirror the concerns already voiced by various U.S. parties regarding the use of search information. Some of the member states, including Germany have registered specific objections. The primary concern seems to be the violation of individual member countries’ copyright and privacy protection laws. Another concern is regarding “successive rights”, that is, determination of the owner of the right to a digitized work, where the original work had a legitimate rights owner. 

Google has agreed to admit two non-U.S. members (a European author and a European publisher) on the book rights registry board. The board was to be set up by Google and run by U.S. publishers and authors. It has also agreed that books commercially available in Europe will only be scanned with the express permission of the rights holder. Scanned versions of books will also be made available to organizations like Europeana. 

Several companies, organizations, lawyers, academics and writers have objected to the Google books deal in the U.S. Microsoft (MSFT) and Yahoo (YHOO) were the biggest among them. Recently, (AMZN) also entered the opposition.
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