Google says sorry to Chinese authors

10:56, January 11, 2010      

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Internet search giant Google has stopped short of an official apology to Chinese authors for scanning their books without permission. It's the first time the search engine expressed regret over the backlash its project to create an online digital library has caused. On the Chinese side, there's a push to set up a system which will make it easier for online libraries, like Google's, to get formal permission from authors.

Media commentators went berserk when Google was accused of digitizing 80 thousand pieces of Chinese written work and posting them on the Internet without permission. On Saturday, Google sent an emissary, an American who is fluent in Mandarin, to confront the accusation.

Eric Hartmann, Asia-Pacific Head of Google books, said, "I think Google has somehow displeased the Chinese authors by unawarely triggering their instinct to protect copyrights. We feel sorry."

Last November, the China Written Work Society released a tough-worded announcement, demanding a detailed list from Google to identify Chinese authors whose books had been scanned. Google agreed to hold talks with the Chinese copyright watchdog to resolve the differences. The fourth round of talks will take place next Tuesday. But the CWWS says spiraling talks will not be acceptable.

Yang Chengzhi, Party Secretary of China Written Work Society, said, "We support individual authors, if they decide to sue Google. If Google can not provide a resolution that satisfies Chinese authors in time, we will continue to launch actions to defend authors' rights."

Luckily, embarrassments between online libraries and authors may soon become history, thanks to an ongoing research. The National Copyright Administration is sculpting a system that will allow libraries like Google Books, to get the go-ahead from individual writers more easily.

Yan XiaoHong, Deputy Director of National Copyright Administration, said, "Through such a system, it will be easier to obtain permission for use."

Google had reportedly offered to pay 60 US dollars to Chinese authors for each book scanned and another 63 percent of income generated by online reading. However, many writers were not satisfied with the terms, while others say they were not informed.

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