Microsoft, Amazon and Yahoo! join fight against Google

The three technology giants of Microsoft, Amazon and Yahoo! are to join the Open Book Alliance in their opposition of Google's Book Search service. The coalition is trying to stop Google's plans to create what could potentially be the biggest virtual library in the world.

The Open Book Alliance is currently made up of various charities and libraries and is headed by the non-profit group Internet Archive, which is also the provider of web archive service Wayback Machine. They are opposing a deal agreed last year giving Google the rights to digitize and commercialize millions of books, Reuters report.

The coalition argues that Google is "trying to monopolise the library system," according to the Internet Archive's founder Brewster Kahle. Internet Archive themselves have digitized over half a million books so far, all of which are available for free. Google's book scanning project would make them the main online source for many works which, it is claimed, would allow them to exploit books and the cost of access to them.

The agreement was reached between Google and various publishers and authors last October as part of a settlement following a class action lawsuit filed by the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers. The lawsuit had accused Google of copyright infringement for scanning and sharing books without permission.

In the deal Google agreed to pay $125 million to set up a Book Rights Registry to let authors and publishers register and be compensated for the use of their works. The company plan to take 30% from the sale of these books. They would also be able to digitize orphan works - books where the copyright holders are unknown - which are estimated to make up between 50 and 70% of books published since 1923.

Any comments about this settlement have to be made by September 4th so it is no surprise to see opposing major technology companies getting on board with the Open Book Alliance. Whilst Microsoft and Yahoo! have confirmed their involvement, Amazon has yet to formally comment. The US Department of Justice is also conducting an antitrust investigation into the implications of the deal.

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