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The Australian Society of Authors (ASA) has announced that it is joining an American lawsuit against the publication of US universities’ scanned-book archive.

With the Google book scanning settlement due to return to court this week, America’s Authors’ Guild is leading the charge against HathiTrust, a group of libraries collecting digital works and seeded by the Google Books Library Project. The action is also supported by the Quebec Union of Writers.

Their complaint states that “by digitizing, archiving, copying and now publishing the copyrighted works without the authorization of those works’ rights holders, the universities are engaging in one of the largest copyright infringements in history”.

Along with HathiTrust, the suit names the Universities of Michigan, California, Wisconsin, Indiana, and Cornell University.

The plaintiffs complain that Google provided the universities with seven million scanned books that are still under copyright. The University of Michigan has been working through the scans to identify “orphan” works, and was planning its first release of just 27 orphans in October.

Authors are complaining that the orphan list includes books whose authors are still alive and are therefore still covered by copyright. One author, Angelo Loukakis – also the executive director of the Australian Society of Authors – says one of his books has been deemed an orphan under the scheme. ®

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