Google has tightened its offensive on copyrighted content in Japan after it agreed to a strategic partnership with Japan PEN, one of the country’s top writers’ associations, which affirms its commitment to respecting author copyright around the Google Books Library Project. The duo have also agreed to work together to help translate Japanese literature into international languages.
The deal, announced via the Google Japan blog, will raise awareness of an author’s right to keep their books from Google’s Book search, which includes a snippet for copyrighted text to help users identify the book as legitimate. Going forward, both sides will work closely to help authors that wish to opt out of showing their content via the Google service.
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PEN is an international organization, founded in London in 1921, dedicated to “promoting literature [and] defending freedom of expression” with the writing industry worldwide. The Japanese chapter was founded in 1935 and its partnership with Google was announced at its monthly meeting, held today.
Google has had its fair share of copyright issues in Europe and the US — including lawsuits in France and Belgium — and, though Japan PEN has never taken legal action against Google, it has long been a dissenting voice on the subject, making the partnership a coup for the search giant.
The deal will also see Google help translate Japanese works into English, and other languages. That’s more important than you think since, according to UNESCO’s database of translated works, there have been twice as many Japanese works translated into French (8,500) than into English (3,700) since 1971.
Google’s Yoichi Sato, APAC print lead for international product partnerships, hailed the agreement as a key step in the two organizations’ relationship:
“We have come to an agreement with the Japan PEN Club, and we believe that the start of our ongoing collaboration constitutes a key step in our relations with players of the Japanese publishing industry. We also believe that this agreement will help introduce Japanese literary heritage to a wider audience.”
Google introduced its Book service to Google Play in Japan in September when it launched the Nexus 7, and the Japanese e-books market has taken off since then. The Rakuten-owned Kobo reader launched in July, not without hiccups, before Amazon’s Kindle range arrived in Japan in October.
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