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New York Times: HarperCollins digital library

HarperCollins Will Create a Searchable Digital Library
Published: December 13, 2005

In the latest move in the battle between publishers and search engines, 
HarperCollins Publishers said yesterday it would create its own digital 
library of all of its book and audio content and make it searchable by 
consumers on the Internet. Web users will be able to search the 
HarperCollins archive via search engines like Google and Yahoo or the 
specialized programs of retailers like Amazon.com.

The move is intended to allow HarperCollins, a unit of the News 
Corporation, to maintain control over digital content rather than cede 
that control to other companies, Jane Friedman, chief executive, said.

Rather than give copies of books to search services like Google for those 
companies to scan as it currently does, HarperCollins would keep the 
material on its own computers, and users would be pointed there by the 
search engine, Ms. Friedman said. The company expects to have at least 
part of the service operating by the middle of next year.

In the end, the development is not likely to make much difference in what 
consumers see, said Brian Murray, group president of HarperCollins. 
Currently, the Google Book Search site returns anywhere from a few lines 
to a few pages of a particular book's contents, depending on whether the 
book is under copyright and whether the publisher participates in its 
program. That's not likely to change.

But, Mr. Murray said, HarperCollins might offer consumers access to more 
of a book on its own site. HarperCollins, which released its announcement 
yesterday after it was first reported in The Wall Street Journal, said 
that all of its publishing companies around the world would participate in 
the program.

Other large publishers, like Random House Inc., a subsidiary of 
Bertelsmann, have long been digitizing all of their new content for 
in-house use, as well as many older books that remain in print.

But the HarperCollins announcement shows that at least one major publisher 
is seeking ways to work with Google and other Internet companies to make 
books and other material, like audiobooks, widely searchable.

Some publishers have filed lawsuits against Google for making digital 
copies of books in major research libraries while that material is still 
under copyright protection. Google maintains that because its searches 
return only a few lines of copyrighted material, its actions are allowed 
by the "fair use" provision of copyright law. The publishers have said 
that simply by making digital copies, Google is violating copyright law.

Copyright 2005 The New York Times