updated 10/6/2006 8:31:58 PM ET 2006-10-07T00:31:58

Google Inc. has issued subpoenas for detailed information about its rivals' book-scanning projects as part of its defense against lawsuits attacking its own plans to put the contents of entire libraries online.

Google wants documents detailing every book the companies have made available online or plan to by the end of 2009.

The Internet search leader sent subpoenas last week to Yahoo Inc., Microsoft Corp., the Association of American Publishers, HarperCollins Publishers Inc., Bertelsmann AG's Random House Inc. and Holtzbrinck Publishers LLC. A similar request went to Inc. on Wednesday.

The companies can choose to mark documents they turn over to Google later this month as confidential. A protective court order specifies Google can only use confidential information for its legal defense — not to gain competitive advantage or soup up its own technology.

Google is being sued by the Association of American Publishers, which represents five major publishers, and the Authors Guild, a trade group representing about 8,000 writers, over its plans to make portions of copyright books available online for searching and reading.

So far, several major U.S. universities including Harvard and the University of California system have signed on to let the company scan the contents of their libraries. Google also plans to make works no longer bound by copyright law available on the Internet in their entirety, including books from the New York Public Library.

Subpoenas filed in the U.S. District Court in New York include requests for lists of all authors, publishers, copyright holders and copyright status of each book scanned by Yahoo, and the other companies, as well as all contracts or communications with publishers, copyright holders and libraries.

Google asked the companies to produce "documents sufficient to show you possess the legal right to include each book" in the scanning projects, as well as companies' own analyses of copyright infringement and fair use issues.

The search leader asked and others to produce their fiscal forecasts for digital book projects, including costs, revenue and the extent to which the projects will eat into physical book sales.

Google also requested documentation for technical details such as digital rights management controls, indexing and search features. declined comment. Officials with Yahoo, Microsoft and the publishers group did not immediately return calls for comment.

The companies named by Google in the court filings have, so far, limited book scanning endeavors to titles that are either no longer protected by copyright law or for which they have express permission to use.

On its site, Web retailer lets shoppers search inside books and read whole pages, but only for works publishers have OK'd. Yahoo and Microsoft are backing a year-old project called the Open Content Alliance, which will offer copyright books, academic papers, video and audio voluntarily submitted by publishers and authors.

Publishers themselves have also launched their own efforts. In August, HarperCollins announced a "Browse Inside" program that publishes book excerpts online.

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