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Like the best, most selfless kind of librarian, the Google Books Library Project aims to make it easier for people to find books.

But according to a new court filing by the Authors Guild, Google’s efforts weren’t aimed at improving libraries at all: The company wanted to hurt Amazon.

“We want web searchers interested in book content to come to Google, not Amazon,” the filing quotes Google as saying in a 2003 presentation.


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Locked in a court battle with Google since 2005, the Authors Guild argues that Google’s Library Project was, from the outset, meant to be a commercial effort. This makes it harder for Google to maintain that the endeavor was meant solely to help scholars and improve libraries. It also makes it easier for the Authors Guild to justify snatching $750 per infringing book from Google.

Google is toeing the line in its response to the claims. “We believe Google Books constitutes fair use by allowing users to identify interesting books and find ways to borrow or buy those books, much like a card catalog for the digital age,” a Google spokesperson told VentureBeat.

According to the Authors Guild filing, Google has invested over $180 million in the Google Books Library Project so far. The company has scanned 20 million titles, nearly half of which are still under copyright.

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