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Chinese court hears novelist's Google lawsuit(2)

Wed, 05/26/2010 - 9:31pm
JOE McDONALD - AP Business Writer - Associated Press

A Chinese novelist's lawsuit against Google over its online library is going ahead in court after settlement talks failed.

Mian Mian known for lurid tales of sex, drugs and nightlife filed suit in October after her latest book, "Acid House," was scanned into the library. Google says it removed the work following Mian Mian's complaint but the author is suing for damages of 61,000 yuan ($9,000) and a public apology.

A Beijing court held a hearing Wednesday after talks ordered by the judge failed to produce a settlement, said Mian Mian's lawyer, Sun Jingwei.

"Compensation is negotiable but Mian Mian really is demanding an apology," Sun said.

A Google spokeswoman in Beijing, Marsha Wang, declined to comment.

The next court date has not been set, Sun said. He said such cases usually can last six months but this one might take more time due to its complexity.

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.

A government-affiliated group, the China Written Works Copyright Society, is calling on Google to negotiate compensation for Chinese authors. The group says it has found more than 80,000 works by Chinese authors scanned into the library.

Mian Mian shot to fame in 2000 with her 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, based in Mountain View, California, is awaiting court approval of a $125 million settlement with American authors and publishers. U.S. regulators and other companies have objected that its terms might hurt the growth of the electronic book market.

Groups representing photographers and artists filed a new copyright infringement suit against Google in April. It seeks up to $150,000 in damages for each of tens of thousands of photos, illustrations and graphic works that it said were copied, stored and electronically displayed without permission.

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Associated Press researcher Bonnie Cao contributed to this report.

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On the Net:

China Written Works Copyright Society: www.prccopyright.org.cn

Google Inc.: www.google.com

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