Amazon, Microsoft, Yahoo fight Google Books

Three Google rivals join in opposition to the search giant's settlement with authors and publishers that let it sell books online.

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By David Goldman, staff writer

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NEW YORK ( -- Three of Google's biggest online rivals have joined the fight against a court settlement that would give Google the rights to sell millions of books on the Internet.

Microsoft (MSFT, Fortune 500) confirmed Friday that it has agreed to join a coalition opposing the Google deal. Amazon (AMZN, Fortune 500) and Yahoo (YHOO, Fortune 500) have also joined, according to published reports.

The coalition, called the Open Book Alliance, opposes a settlement reached last October between Google, the Association of American Publishers and the Authors Guild. The settlement would allow Google (GOOG, Fortune 500) to display portions of books online and sell digital copies of them.

A court will review the agreement for approval on Oct. 7. The coalition said it is considering whether it will file a challenge to the settlement with the court.

"We've been having a range of conversations with rather diverse organizations that have interest in speaking together to articulate concerns about the settlement," said Peter Brantley, director of the Internet Archive and spokesman for the Open Book Alliance. "We'll raise the possibility of ways that the settlement may be changed or altered to create a more open market for books."

Google's online book initiative, called Google Books, has cataloged 1 million public domain books with expired copyrights. The tech giant's settlement was reached after the publishers and authors associations sued Google for copyright infringement in late 2005 over the company's plans to scan and copy millions of books from library collections -- many of which are still under copyright.

The settlement would give authors and publishers $45 million whose copyrighted books are scanned without permission.

The Justice Department's antitrust unit announced in April that it is looking into the settlement.

In addition to the three big companies that plan to join the coalition, the opposition group is made up of the nonprofit group Internet Archive and various library associations from across the country.

Requests for comment from Yahoo and a coalition representative were not immediately returned. Amazon, which makes the popular Kindle e-reader, and sells digital books on its online store, declined to comment.

A formal announcement from the group is expected next week. To top of page

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