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Authors Guild urges NY federal appeals court to make Google reward authors of digital books

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NEW YORK — An Authors Guild lawyer urged a federal appeals court in Manhattan on Wednesday to force Google to reward authors for including their books in the world's largest digital library.

Attorney Paul Smith told a three-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals there was no evidence that Google Inc.'s project helps authors sell books. But he said there was plenty of proof that Google is violating copyright laws.

Seth Waxman, a lawyer for the Mountain View, California-based company, countered that the library exists so readers can find books. He said the library has "revolutionized the way people find authors and books."

The Authors Guild had appealed a judge's ruling that tossed out its lawsuit, saying the Internet giant is violating copyright laws by failing to make transformative "fair use" under copyright law of the books it copies.

The author's group wants Google Inc. to pay $750 for each of the more than 20 million copyright books it has already copied.

"In our view, the entire book search program is fair use," Waxman said.

Waxman argued that libraries across the country and Google have combined in the project to transform books for new uses that do not violate copyright laws, including offering snippets of works in its online library.

The copyrights on many books in Google's digital library have already expired so they would not be subject to any award the Authors Guild would secure if it wins its appeal.

At one point Wednesday, Circuit Judge Jose Cabranes asked Smith: "What is it you want from us?"

Smith answered that he wants the judges to overturn the lower-court ruling and direct the judge to find in favor of the Authors Guild, enabling it to collect damages on behalf of authors.

The appeals court did not immediately rule.

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