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When book publishers rallied against Google’s library book scanning project last year, they accused the tech giant of stealing. In a lawsuit filed in New York federal court, the publishers claimed that if Google Inc. made digital copies of library books available online for search purposes, the tech company would be committing massive copyright infringement. But then one book publisher, HarperCollins, tried to steal a page from its antagonist’s playbook, announcing that it would make its entire backlist, about 20,000 titles, including such classics as “Charlotte’s Web,” available online. Publishers didn’t have a problem — but book authors and their lawyers did a double take.

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