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Last Updated: Thursday, 3 November 2005, 13:34 GMT
Google posts first books online
Booth at Frankfurt book fair, AFP/Getty
The first works from Google Print's project have been unveiled
The first works scanned and put online as part of Google's controversial print project have been unveiled.

Included in this opening swathe are many 19th Century works of American literature and history.

The works were chosen because they are out of copyright and unaffected by legal action that led Google to briefly halt its digitisation project.

Groups representing authors and publishers say the project amounts to copyright infringement.

Legal row

Books about the US Civil War, government papers and the writings of Henry James are among the works donated by project participants for the first group of online works.

"Today we welcome the world to our library," said Mary Sue Coleman, president of the University of Michigan, in a statement.

"As educators we are inspired by the possibility of sharing these important works with people around the globe."

The entire text of these works is being put online by the search giant's digitisation project. The text will be searchable and users will be able to save images of pages.

Google has enrolled Harvard University, Stanford University, the University of Michigan, the New York Public Library and Oxford University in the digitisation project.

The search giant said the first focus of the digitisation plan would be books in the public domain, so-called orphaned works and titles that have gone out of print.

Eventually Google hopes the collection of works it will put online will dwarf this first group of works.

The plan to put books online was unveiled a year ago but has run into legal challenges that temporarily halted the systematic scanning operation.

The US Authors Guild along with five large publishers have gone to court to stop Google scanning copyrighted works without getting explicit permission from rights holders.

Despite the legal challenge this week Google re-started its scanning project to put books online.

As well as legal challenges Google faces competition from a similar rival plan to scan books by the Open Content Alliance which counts Microsoft, Yahoo and the Internet Archive among its backers.

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