Spain's venerable Universidad Complutense de Madrid has joined Google's Books Library Project, a controversial initiative that has Google in court facing allegations of copyright violation.
In an apparent attempt to sidestep the nasty copyright controversy surrounding the program, the Spanish library will make available for scanning only books that are in the public domain.
The Complutense's library, the largest of any university in Spain, is the first in the program whose collection consists primarily of books in Spanish, Google announced Tuesday.
Google will scan hundreds of thousands of the library's books, all of which will be available for viewing and downloading in their entirety, because copyright restrictions don't apply to them.
The digital copies of the books will be available via Google's book search engine. The university will also receive digital copies of the scanned works.
Others participating in the Google Library Project are the University of Oxford, University of California, University of Michigan, Harvard University, Stanford University and the New York Public Library. A pilot project with the U.S. Library of Congress is also underway.
The Association of American Publishers (AAP) last year sued Google on behalf of five of its members, alleging massive copyright infringement in the project. The Authors Guild Inc. and three authors also sued Google for the same reason last year.
The AAP and the Authors Guild both allege Google needs permission from copyright holders before scanning in-copyright books it obtains from the libraries.
Google maintains its activities are legal because it only displays short text excerpts and bibliographic information for in-copyright books.
The AAP and the Authors Guild counter that making a digital copy of an in-copyright book without permission from the copyright holder is infringement. They also object to Google's storage of these copies on its servers to make their text searchable.
A Google spokeswoman couldn't immediately recall if other libraries, like the Complutense's, are refraining from lending Google in-copyright works for scanning.