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Popular search engine Google is the target of another lawsuit over its electronic book index project.

Following the lead of the U.S. Authors Guild, the Association of American Publishers has filed a lawsuit against search engine giant Google and its plan to create an electronic library book index.

The publishers group filed papers in U.S. District Court in Manhattan Wednesday in which it seeks a ruling that would support an injunction against illegal scanning. McGraw-Hill, Pearson Education, Penguin Group USA, Simon & Schuster and John Wiley & Sons are listed as plaintiffs.

The lawsuit, which seeks recovery of legal costs, but no additional damages, cites the "continuing, irreparable and imminent harm publishers are suffering ... due to Google's willful [copyright] infringement to further its own commercial purposes."

In September, the U.S. Authors Guild, which represents more than 8,000 writers, filed a class-action lawsuit accusing Google of "massive copyright infringement" and sought to block the company from reproducing copyrighted works and making them available online.

Google: project aims to create "giant electronic card catalogue"

Launched last December, the Google Print Library Project set out to scan millions of books from the libraries of Harvard, Stanford, Michigan and Oxford universities, as well as the New York Public Library. While some offered Google their entire collections, others agreed to contribute only material no longer under copyright.

The project is an offshoot of the search engine's original Google Print program, which indexes copyrighted material submitted voluntarily by publishers.

"Imagine one giant electronic card catalogue that makes all the world's books discoverable with just a few keystrokes by anyone, anywhere, any time. That's the vision behind Google Print," company CEO Eric Schmidt wrote in an op-ed piece published Tuesday in the Wall Street Journal.

While the library project includes the scanning of entire books into the index, only a limited amount of material about each book under copyright will be displayed when a user runs a search: snippets of text where the search terms appear, basic bibliographic information and links to online booksellers or libraries that carry the title. Books out of copyright are to be displayed in their entirety.

In a statement on its website Wednesday, Google executive David Drummond called the project "a historic effort to make millions of books easier for people to find and buy."

"We think you should be able to search through every word of every book ever written, and come away with a list of relevant books to buy or find at your local library," said Drummond, Google's general counsel and vice president, corporate development.

"Creating an easy-to-use index of books is fair use under copyright law and supports the purpose of copyright: to increase the awareness and sales of books directly benefiting copyright holders."

Google hits domestic opposition but gets foreign cooperation

Google has provided a means for writers or publishers to "opt out" of the project through an online form. However, U.S. critics of the program say that the company has wrongly placed the burden to "opt out" on copyright holders and that Google's wholesale scanning of copyrighted works opens the doors for others to do so in the future.

Another form of opposition came from abroad earlier this year when, in May, European academics and politicians proposed an alternative project to counter what they feared would be Google's U.S.-centric index. However, some of these members were considering collaboration with the U.S. company to create its alternative version.

Earlier this week, Google announced the introduction of a version of its print program in eight European countries, including France, Germany and Spain.