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Authors take aim at Google Books with a lawsuit against five US universities

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Mandi Wright/Detroit Free Press/AP

(Read caption) "These aren't orphaned books, they're abducted books," says one of the plantiffs in a lawsuit attempting to stop five American universities – including the University of Michigan – from accessing millions of out-of-print and "orphan" digital books scanned by Google.

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One party is calling it “one of the largest copyright infringements in history.” The other says its “a lawful activity and important work for scholarship.”

A group of authors and writers’ groups around the world are suing five American universities for copyright infringement for creating online libraries comprised of millions of books scanned by Google.

Observers are calling the fight a proxy battle in the long-running court battle between Google and publishers, the outcome of which could foretell Google’s fate in the matter.

The Authors Guild, the Australian Society of Authors, the Union Des Ecrivaines et des Ecraivains Quebecois, and eight individual authors – British novelist Fay Weldon, Pulitzer-winning American biographer T.J. Stiles, children’s author Pat Cummings, poet Andre Roy, Shakespeare scholar James Shapiro, and novelists Angelo Loukakis, Roxana Robinson, and Daniele Simpson – have filed suit against the universities of California, Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana, and Cornell.

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