A group of writers representing more than 8,000 authors is suing Google for "massive copyright infringement" over its fledgling programme of digitizing library books.
The Authors Guild has issued legal proceedings in a New York court claiming damages and demanding the search engine stops uploading the contents of library books.
Google Print launched last October, enables people to search the contents of books online and, according to Google, makes it easier to find relevant books.
It consists of a publisher programme, which encourages book firms to make their titles searchable on line, and the Google Print Library Project, a scheme to upload books at a number of major American libraries.
"This is a plain and brazen violation of copyright law," said the Authors Guild president, Nick Taylor. "It's not up to Google or anyone other than the authors, the rightful owners of these copyrights, to decide whether and how their works will be copied."
The lawsuit demanded the court block Google from copying the books so the authors would not "suffer irreparable harm" by being deprived of the right to control reproduction of their works, reports Guardian.
According to Mail & Guardian, Authors' Guild, the largest society of published writers in the US, three writers are named as having brought the action: Daniel Hoffman, a former poet laureate of the US; Betty Miles, an author of children's and young-adult fiction; and Herbert Mitgang, a former New York Times editorial writer and the author of a biography of Abraham Lincoln as well as novels and plays.
Each of the plaintiffs claims copyright to at least one literary work that is in the library of the University of Michigan -- one of the libraries, along with Harvard and Stanford, that agreed to let Google create a database of their entire collection.
The company is also scanning books stored at the New York Public Library and Oxford University, but those two libraries are providing Google only with "public domain" works material no longer protected by copyright. Oxford University's Bodleian Library will initially make an estimated one million books from its 19th-century collection available to Google.
At the time the project was announced in December last year, Reg Carr, director of Oxford University Library Services, commented: "We hope Oxford's contribution to this project will be of scholarly use, as well as general interest, to people around the world."