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Writers group sues Google over copyrights

NEW YORK -- An organization of more than 8,000 authors accused Google Inc. yesterday of ''massive copyright infringement," saying the powerful Internet search engine cannot put its books in the public domain for commercial use without permission.

''The authors' works are contained in certain public and university libraries and have not been licensed for commercial use," The Author's Guild Inc. said in the lawsuit in US District Court in Manhattan.

The lawsuit asked the court to 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. It sought class-action status on behalf of anyone or any entity with a copyright to a literary work at the University of Michigan library.

Last December, Google announced its library initiative, saying it would be scanning and indexing material from the New York public library as well as libraries at four universities -- Harvard, Stanford, Michigan, and Oxford. The Michigan and Stanford libraries had agreed to submit all of their material to the Google scanners.

The Author's Guild, a New York-based nonprofit organization, said its primary purpose as the nation's largest organization of book authors was to advocate for and support the copyright and contractural interests of writers.

Google, based in Mountain View, Calif., said in a statement that it respects copyright.

In another development, Google confirmed yesterday it has begun a limited test of a free wireless Net service, called Google WiFi.

The existence of the WiFi service, which offers high-speed connections to the Internet over short distances, is confirmed by public pages on the company's website and was first reported in a Silicon Valley newspaper in July.

Google spokesman Nate Tyler said the current test is limited to two public sites near the company's headquarters.

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