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U-M Halts Book Digitizing Project After Lawsuit

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ANN ARBOR (WWJ/AP) - The University of Michigan says it has committed some serious errors in its legally challenged book digitizing project and is putting new releases on hold.

The action follows a copyright infringement suit filed Sept. 12 in federal court in Manhattan by the Authors Guild, the Australian Society of Authors, a Quebec writers’ group and eight individual authors.

The suit names the universities of Michigan, California and Wisconsin, and Indiana and Cornell universities.

A statement issued by the university four days after the suit was filed acknowledged that the school committed “a number of errors, some of them serious.”

“Our pilot process is flawed,” the statement said. “Having learned from our mistakes – we are, after all, an educational institution – we have already begun an examination of our procedures to identify the gaps that allowed volumes that are evidently not orphan works to be added to the list.”

Before pausing the program, the Ann Arbor school planned to release 27 books on Oct. 13 and 140 books starting in November as a part of its Orphan Works Project for books out of copyright protection.

Authors Guild President Scott Turow issued a statement saying Michigan’s digitizing project needlessly puts works under copyright at risk.

“Even if it weren’t for this preposterous, ad-hoc initiative, we’d have a major problem with the digital repository. Authors shouldn’t have to trust their works to a group that’s making up the rules as it goes along,” Turow said.

The authors said books from nearly every nation have been digitized, including thousands of works published in 2001 in China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Russia, Spain and the United Kingdom, and hundreds from Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, Egypt, Israel, Lebanon, Mexico, The Netherlands, The Philippines, South Korea, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey and Vietnam.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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