Google came under further pressure on Wednesday to curtail its ambitions to scan and digitise books under copyright, with the Association of American Publishers (AAP) filing a lawsuit to block the internet company?s project.

The legal action followed a similar move last month when the Authors Guild, representing 8,000 writers, joined individual authors in a class-action lawsuit alleging the Google Print Library Project, launched last December, violated their copyright.

The AAP suit was filed on behalf of five major publisher members ? McGraw-Hill, Simon & Schuster, John Wiley & Sons and Pearson Education and Penguin Group. The latter two are part of the Pearson group of companies that includes the FT. The AAP said the lawsuit had been filed ?only after lengthy discussions broke down between AAP and Google?s top management?.

Its suit seeks a declaration by the court that Google commits an infringement when it scans entire books covered by copyright and an order preventing it from doing so without permission of the copyright owner.

As part of its mission statement of organising all of the world?s information and making it universally accessible, Google is scanning and indexing online millions of books from libraries at Harvard, Michigan, Stanford and Oxford universities and the New York Public Library.

Patricia Schroeder, AAP president, said that while authors and publishers thought its online Print Library could be an excellent resource, ?the bottom line is that under its current plan Google is seeking to make millions of dollars by freeloading on the talent and property of authors and publishers?.

Google has irked the industry by not seeking permission first to scan copyrighted works in contrast to a similar project by the Open Content Alliance, supported by its rival Yahoo.

Eric Schmidt, Google chief executive, argued in the Wall Street Journal that the Library project did not make money from advertising or referrals. David Drummond, Google?s general counsel, said: ?Google Print is an historic effort to make millions of books easier for people to find and buy. Creating an easy to use index of books is fair use under copyright law and supports the purpose of copyright. This short-sighted attempt to block Google Print works counter to the interests of not just the world?s readers, but also the world?s authors and publishers.?

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