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Google sued by top textbook publishers over ads for pirated e-books

Post Time:2024-06-06 Source:Reuters Author: Blake Brittain Views:

June 5 (Reuters) - Google (GOOGL.O) was hit with a lawsuit on Wednesday by educational publishers Cengage, Macmillan Learning, McGraw Hill and Elsevier accusing the tech giant of promoting pirate copies of their textbooks.

The publishers told the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York that Google has ignored thousands of copyright-infringement notices and continues to profit from the sale of pirated digital versions of textbooks advertised through its dominant search engine.

Google representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the lawsuit. The publishers' attorney Matt Oppenheim of Oppenheim + Zebrak told Reuters that Google had become a "thieves' den" for textbook pirates.

The complaint said that Google searches for the publishers' work feature heavily discounted, pirated e-book versions at the top of the results.

"The artificially low-priced infringing works drown out the regularly priced legitimate works," the lawsuit said. "Of course, the pirate sellers can sell their infringing works at such low prices because they did nothing to create or license them; they just illegally made digital copies."

According to the lawsuit, Google has made the piracy worse by restricting ads for licensed e-books.

"As a result, the textbook market is upside down, as the world's largest online advertising business advertises ebooks for pirates but rejects ebook ads for legitimate sellers," the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit said that the publishers have been complaining to Google about the ads since 2021 to no avail. They accused Google of copyright and trademark infringement and deceptive trade practices, requesting an unspecified amount of monetary damages.

The case is Cengage Learning Inc v. Google LLC, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, No. 1:24-cv-04274.