Photographers complain about Google books deal

Google is to face another lawsuit. This time from photographers and artists for digitising images without consent.

e-books

Photographers and other visual artists have filed a class-action lawsuit against Google for digitising images without their consent, in the latest chapter in the ongoing Google digital books dispute.

The American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP), and a handful of similar organisations, filed the complaint for copyright infringement in the US District for the Southern District of New York adds to the legal woes of the internet giant currently battling a $125 million filed by text authors in connection with the Google Library Project.

The visual artists filed the lawsuit after the US Court denied a request to join the text copyright lawsuit against Google.

"Through this suit, we are fulfilling the missions of our organisations and standing up for the rights of photographers and other visual artists who have been excluded from the process up to now," ASMP Executive Director Eugene Mopsik said.

"We strongly believe that our members and those of other organisations, whose livelihoods are significantly and negatively impacted, deserve to have representation in this landmark issue."

The Google Library Project has been a topic of controversy since it was introduced in October 2004. Millions of books have been scanned and are available for search or download through Google Book Search.

The firm representing the latest visual lawsuit, Mishcon de Reya New York LLP, said the lawsuit goes beyond the images scanned within books and also addresses other art and images used by Google.

"This case is about fairness and compensation," James McGuire of Mishcon de Reya said. "It's only right that if someone uses something you create, you should be paid for it."

Although Google was not immediately available for comment, the company has previously defended digital scanning, saying that the process is legal and contributes to human knowledge.

The case may have global implications, since copyright law varies among countries. The European regulators have debated the issue, but no firm decisions have been reached.

The ASMP and others filing did not reveal what damages will be sought, but ASMP General Counsel Victor Perlman released this statement:

"We are seeking justice and fair compensation for visual artists whose work appears in the twelve million books and other publications Google has illegally scanned to date. In doing so, we are giving voice to thousands of disenfranchised creators of visual artworks whose rights we hope to enforce through this class action."

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