Chinese novelist sues Google for scanning books

Chinese novelist sues Google for scanning books

A Chinese novelist who specialises in tales of sex and drugs is suing Google for scanning her work into its online library.

Mian Mian, a counterculture writer, acted after the internet search giant scanned her latest book, “Acid House.”

After a two-hour hearing today a Beijing judge told the two sides to hold talks on a settlement and report back, said her lawyer, Sun Jingwei. He said Mian Mian, who was not at the hearing, wants €6,600 damages and a public apology.

A Google spokeswoman said the company removed Mian Mian’s works from its library as soon as it learned of the lawsuit.

“We think even if they remove Mian Mian’s work, their previous behaviour is a violation of her rights,” Sun said. “We demand a public apology.”

Sun said a negotiated settlement was a possibility and the court set no deadline.

Google’s ambitious effort to make printed works available online has faced opposition from writers in the United States, Europe and elsewhere. Google has scanned more than 10 million books, many of them still under copyright.

In China, a government-affiliated group, the China Written Works Copyright Society, is calling on Google to negotiate compensation for Chinese authors whose work is scanned into its library.

Mian Mian, who lives in Shanghai, shot to fame in 2000 when she published the novel “Candy,” which caused a stir with its graphic depiction of heroin use. Most of her work is banned in China, though pirated copies are widely available.

Google negotiated a $125m settlement last year with American authors and publishers. It is waiting for court approval after objections by US regulators and other companies that said it might hurt the growth of the electronic book market.

The Chinese writers’ group said it has found more than 80,000 works by Chinese authors scanned into the library.

In Europe, Google is trying to avoid potential copyright infringement by scanning only books over 150 years old.

The European Commission said in October it might change copyright law to make it easier for companies such as Google to scan books and distribute copies over the internet.

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