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Google and British Library put 150m books online

Google has done a deal with the British Library which will see one of the world's largest collections of books and other printed materials scanned and offered online for free.

The move will see the search engine giant scanning all of the British Library's texts dating back to the 18th century comprising more than 150 million items from every age of civilization, including books, journals, manuscripts, maps, stamps, music, patents, photographs, newspapers and sound recordings in all written and spoken languages.

It has been required by law since 1662 that a copy of any publication made in the UK is deposited in the British Library making it a uniquely complete collection.

Google has fallen foul of copyright laws in its quest to open up public collections in the past but now has agreements with more than 40 major libraries all over the world.