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11/30/2006
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Yahoo Hands Setback To Google In Book Publishers' Suit

Yahoo says that Google isn't just looking for information to defend itself in the lawsuit; it's also fishing for information that could give it a competitive advantage.

Yahoo said Thursday that Google will have to get a court order for information Google has subpoenaed from Yahoo in relation to a copyright-infringement lawsuit filed by book publishers and authors.

The Google Book Search Library Project involves scanning library books, including some copyrighted books, which has drawn fire from publishers and writers. Google hopes to defend the suit by offering details on similar search-related projects by other companies. In addition to Yahoo, Google also subpoenaed Amazon.com and Microsoft. Amazon.com last month refused to provide any information, and Microsoft refused to discuss its response, according to the Associated Press.

Yahoo said Google is seeking too much. "The subpoena is overbroad and is seeking information that we don't think is relevant to Google," Yahoo associate general counsel Reggie Davis said. "Frankly, we're concerned that Google may be seeking competitive advantage by seeking the ideas, documents and other things we discussed internally when making a decision on how we were going to approach the issue (library books) online."

But Google said in an e-mail response: "The subpoena and objection process is a common part of ongoing litigation. We will certainly speak with Yahoo about any concerns they may have."

Yahoo's objections go beyond the information Google is seeking, Davis said. The company also disagrees with Google's position that it's OK to copy books as long as it doesn't make the full text available. Google has said that showing only snippets in search results falls under the fair use clause in federal copyright laws.

"We think you should do it (copy books) with the permission of copyright holders," Davis said.

Google now has the option to accept Yahoo's rejection, or seek a court order forcing the company to hand over the information. "We don't intend to produce any information in response to this subpoena," Davis said.

The Association of American Publishers and the Authors Guild sued Google last year, challenging its library initiative and arguing the company needs to have permission to copy protected works.

Under the project, Google plans to digitize books from the collections of Stanford University, Harvard University, the University of Michigan, Oxford University, the New York Public Library and the University of California. Some of the institutions are making available only books in the public domain.

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