A Microsoft lawyer this week accused Google of “systematically violating copyright” with its plans to scan millions of books and journals from libraries around the world and make them available online. But Google argues its plans are legal.
Google is not the only company scanning books and putting them on the internet. In a large underground room at the British Library in London, Microsoft has set up a system to scan in 100,000 books.
An automatic clamp holds the books in a cradle and turns the pages. Powerful cameras capture each page and a computer reads the text.
Google and Microsoft are, in effect, going head to head with projects which could make the whole of human literature available to search online.
Google has signed up the libraries of Oxford and Harvard Universities, among others. Microsoft has agreements with libraries including the University of California and the British Library.