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Google hit by lawsuits over copyright issues, privacy

April 08, 2010|Bloomberg News

Google Inc. has racked up the lawsuits this week, with one dealing with copyright issues and another citing privacy concerns with the company's Buzz social-networking service.

On Wednesday, photographers and illustrators sued the Web-search company, contending that a plan from the world's most popular Internet search engine to make digital copies of millions of books would infringe the copyrights for images they've created.

Individuals and groups such as the Graphic Artists Guild and the Professional Photographers of America filed a class-action lawsuit against Google in U.S. District Court in New York and are seeking a jury trial.

"We are confident that Google Books is fully compliant with international copyright law," Gabriel Stricker, a Google spokesman, said in an e-mailed statement.

On Tuesday, Rupert Murdoch, chairman and chief executive of News Corp., said newspaper publishers should prevent search engines like Google and Microsoft Corp.'s Bing from linking to full articles free.

"It's produced a river of gold, but those words are being taken mostly from the newspapers," Murdoch, 79, said at a taping of "The Kalb Report" at the National Press Club in Washington.

Murdoch, who publishes the Wall Street Journal, said news aggregators should be able to display only a headline, a couple of sentences and the option to subscribe to the publication.

Earlier in the week, Google was also sued over claims that its Buzz social-networking service violated the privacy rights of those who use Google's Gmail service.

Buzz, introduced by Mountain View, Calif.-based Google in February, automatically displayed to other users the customer's contacts pulled from Gmail e-mail accounts. Google has said it modified the service after customers complained.

The suit, filed Monday in federal court in San Jose, follows a letter sent by 10 members of Congress last month to federal antitrust authorities urging an investigation into whether Buzz compromised users' privacy.

The case, which seeks class-action status, was filed by Barry Feldman of New York, who claims Google automatically activated Buzz from his e-mail account. Buzz broadcasted his frequent e-mail contacts and information stored in his Google profile to other Gmail users, according to the lawsuit.

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