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Frankfurt Book Fair 2005

24 October 2005

This has been the weekend of the Frankfurt Book FairWorld's largest trade fair for books; held annually mid-October at Frankfurt Trade Fair, Germany; First three days exclusively for trade visitors; general public can attend last two., rather later this year than usual and, with 7,223 exhibitors from 101 countries exhibiting 380,655 titles, the biggest ever. The Frankfurt Book Fair intends to concentrate on the three pillars of business, culture and politics, according to new Fair director Juergen Boos: 'The very existence of publishing companies and of the Book Fair as well, is based of course on freedom of expression and of the press.'

But how much can change and affect the new freedoms in such a short space of time. It's only a year ago that Google launched their Google Print initiative at last year's Frankfurt, but just this week the Association of American PublishersThe national trade association of the American book publishing industry; AAP has more than 300 members, including most of the major commercial publishers in the United States, as well as smaller and non-profit publishers, university presses and scholarly societies has marked the anniversary by filing suit against Google Print for Libraries on the grounds that 'Google commits infringement when it scans entire books covered by copyright and a court order preventing it from doing so without permission of the copyright owner.'

AAP president Patricia Schroeder says: 'While authors and publishers know how useful Google's search engine can be and think the Print Library could be an excellent resource, the bottom line is that under its current plan Google is seeking to make millions of dollars by freeloading on the talent and property of authors and publishers.'

Google CEO Eric Schmidt commented in the Wall Street Journal: "The program's critics maintain that any use of their books requires their permission. We have the utmost respect for the intellectual and creative effort that lies behind every grant of copyright. Copyright law, however, is all about which uses require permission and which don't; and we believe (and have structured Google Print to ensure) that the use we make of books we scan through the Library Project is consistent with the Copyright Act, whose "fair use" balancing of the rights of copyright-holders with the public benefits of free expression and innovation allows a wide range of activity, from book quotations in reviews to parodies of pop songs - all without copyright-holder permission.'

It looks as if Boos is right to include politics amongst the Frankfurt Book Fair's themes. With increasing globalisation in publishing and the Internet now nothing less than a global resource, authors' copyright needs careful protection. Or is the AAP just burying its head in the sand?