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Yahoo! is setting out to build a vast online library of copyright books that pleases publishers — something rival Google hasn’t achieved.

The Open Content Alliance, a project of Yahoo! and several other partners, plans to provide digital versions of books, academic papers, video and audio.

Much of the material will consist of copyright material submitted by publishers and authors, said David Mandelbrot, Yahoo!’s vice president of search content.

Other participants in the alliance being announced today include Adobe Systems, Hewlett-Packard, the Internet Archive, O’Reilly Media, the University of California and the University of Toronto.

Although Yahoo! will power the search engine located at www.opencontentalliance.org, all the content will be made available so it can be indexed by all major search engines, including Google’s.


Israel’s El Al to buy 2 long-range 777s

El Al Israel Airlines said yesterday it has signed an agreement with Boeing to buy two 777-200 ER jets for about $246 million.

Israel’s national carrier expects to take delivery of the long-range wide-body jets in 2007.

El Al operates an all-Boeing fleet of 34 aircraft, four of them leased. In September, El Al had said it would decide within three months whether to stick with Boeing for its new plane purchase or switch to rival Airbus for the first time.

The new planes will fly routes from Tel Aviv to the U.S. and Asia.

General Motors

Canadian workers ratify 3-year pact

Unionized workers of General Motors of Canada voted to approve a three-year labor contract with the automaker, the Canadian Auto Workers union said yesterday.

The union said 80 percent of the 6,810 GM Canada workers who voted during the weekend accepted the deal reached less than an hour before a strike deadline last Tuesday.

The Canadian Auto Workers represents about 17,500 GM Canada workers.

Paramount Home Entertainment

Blu-ray DVD format gets another backer

Paramount Home Entertainment is the latest company to back the Blu-ray Disc format as the next-generation DVD standard.

Paramount said yesterday it will join a growing list of media and technology companies endorsing Blu-ray that includes Sony, Apple Computer, Hewlett-Packard and Dell.

Paramount, whose hits include “Titanic” and “The Godfather,” will still market all its DVD movies in the competing HD DVD format so consumers can have a choice, company officials said.

Backers of HD DVD include Intel, Microsoft, Toshiba and Universal Studios and others.

Paramount decided to support the Blu-ray format after an analysis of the cost and copy protection solutions available, according to a prepared statement.

Paramount also said it was attracted by Blu-ray’s storage capacity, which is five times that of current DVDs.

Analysts say consumers are likely to stick with standard DVDs until there is a resolution.


Canada reviews plan for music business

The federal government is reviewing Starbucks’ proposal to start a retail music business in Toronto and wants to see if it will offer adequate Canadian content and hire plenty of Canadian workers.

Starbucks proposes an investment under its Hear Music brand, which it bought in 1999 as two existing music stores in California.

The Seattle-based coffee retailer has been aggressively expanding Hear Music in the United States.

The Department of Canadian Heritage ordered the review under the Investment Canada Act to determine the impact on Canadian culture.

A Starbucks spokeswoman would not provide information about the proposed Toronto business, except to say it’s not a Hear Music coffee house.

NRG Energy

$5.8 billion deal for Texas Genco

NRG Energy is buying privately held power generator Texas Genco in a $5.8 billion cash and stock deal announced yesterday.

The deal represents the first major combination in the merchant power generating sector, which is filled with medium-sized players but few giants.

Princeton, N.J.-based NRG w will also assume about $2.5 billion in Texas Genco debt. The deal requires federal antitrust clearance and approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

It may also require approval from the Public Utilities Commission of Texas, NRG said.


Firefox usage sees smaller gains

The heat behind Mozilla’s Firefox Web browser is cooling. A Web metrics firm, WebSideStory, reported the Firefox browser was used by 7.86 percent of Web users in September, barely a 1 percent increase since April.

“It looks like Firefox has hit the push-back point,” said Geoff Johnston, an analyst for the research firm.

The market share of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer was 88.46 percent, down 0.4 percent since April. Johnston said Firefox’s meager gains are coming at the expense of other browsers from Opera Software and Apple Computer’s Safari.


Computers tailored to China, India

Intel says it is increasing research to develop computers tailored to faster-growing markets such as China and India.

“We have 60 million households in China that indicate they would love to have a PC if we can just address some of their unique cultural needs,” said Justin Rattner, the director of Intel’s technology group. Taking a step in that direction, he said that Intel developed a computer that helps children learn Chinese characters.

For the Indian market, Intel has developed a machine that has cooling-fan dust filters and can cope with power outages.

Walt Disney Co.

Digital-music player aimed at youths

Walt Disney Co. introduced a $49.99 digital audio player aimed at younger people.

The MP3/WMA player — called Mix Sticks — will let users download songs from the Internet, copy them from CDs or play music from memory cards. The devices can hold about 60 songs and can be expanded to about 500, Disney said.

Disney will begin selling its Mix Sticks in mid-October through Target, Sears and Limited Too stores as well as online at Wal-Mart.com and DisneyShopping.com.

Compiled from MarketWatch, Bloomberg News, Reuters and The Associated Press