Google opens doors to virtual library

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Google Inc. marked an important step in the history of recorded information Thursday by opening up the first virtual library on the Web.

Google said it's making available the first large collection of public books via Google Print. The books range from U.S. Civil War history texts to government documents. The digitized books are not subject to copyright laws because they were never bound by these laws or copyright law has expired. All books published prior to 1923 are considered to be in the public domain.

Google has been working with partner libraries at the University of Michigan; Stanford, Harvard and Oxford universities; plus the New York Public Library since announcing last fall that it planned to digitize the world's libraries.

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