In a surprise move, authors’ groups slammed their one-time university partners with a lawsuit demanding that the schools’ surrender digital collections and stop working with Google (NSDQ: GOOG). The lawsuit opens a new phase in the fight over digital libraries and comes the same week that Google’s controversial books settlement is expected to die in court.
The lawsuit is a response to a digital book sharing plan announced last month by a group of prominent schools, including Michigan, Cornell, Duke and the University of California. The plan is intended to solve the problem of how to share “orphan works”—books whose authors can’t be found and that for that reason cannot be distributed because of copyright law.
…This situation is a far cry from a year ago when the Authors Guild and the universities were still “partners” in an ambitious plan with publishers and Google to build the world’s biggest online library. That plan—known as the Google Books Settlement—was rejected in March by Judge Denny Chin at the request of a coalition led by Google rivals, Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) and Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT). The settlement is the subject of a further court hearing this Thursday at which the parties are widely expected to throw in the towel.