An ongoing book digitization project between Google and dozens of American universities has hit a roadblock as copyright infringement concerns have come to light.
According to the New York Times, the Authors Guild, the Australian Society of Authors and the Quebec Union of Writers have collectively filed suit against five universities and a partnership of research libraries associated with the Google archiving initiative.
"By digitizing, archiving, copying and now publishing the copyrighted works without the authorization of those works' rights holders, the universities are engaging in one of the largest copyright infringements in history," the plaintiffs stated in U.S. District Court, according to the news outlet.
The Authors Guild, representing the interests of more than 8,500 writers, previously filed suit against Google for a separate book digitization and archiving project in 2005. According to the Times, a New York federal judge recently rejected a proposed settlement in that case, leaving the professional organization engaged in legal battles with the technology titan on multiple fronts.
Project organizers have insisted that the initiative has been instrumental in the preservation of historically and culturally significant books that were literally decaying on shelves across the country. However, in their rush to complete the time-sensitive task, it appears as though officials may have overlooked fundamental copyright concerns meant to protect the intellectual property rights of the documents' rightful owners.