Money Matters - Simplified

Court orders Google to stop scanning French books

The court also ordered Google to stop distributing digital copies of French-language books to French Internet users without the permission of their publishers

Los Angeles, December 19 -- Google's French book search project suffered a legal setback Friday after a Paris court ruled that the search company must stop scanning French works for its digital library project in the country.

In a 22-page ruling, the court said yesterday that Google digitization project violates France's strict copyright laws, and ordered the world's most powerful online search giant to stop digitizing copyrighted French books.

Legal setback for Google
The decision is the culmination of a three-year battle between Mountain View, Calif.-based Google and a group of powerful French publishers, including the prestigious Editions du Seuil SAS publishing house.

“Google violated author copyright laws by fully reproducing and making accessible on the site” books owned by Seuil without its permission, the court ruled yesterday, Bloomberg writes.

No scanning of French books
The court also ordered Google to stop distributing digital copies of French-language books to French Internet users without the permission of their publishers.

The search giant must also pay $429,000 in damages and interest to Editions du Seuil SAS, the publisher that filed the lawsuit against Google in Paris in June 2006, accusing the search mammoth of scanning more than 100,000 French works protected by copyrights.

"This should serve as a real wake-up call for Google, and will no doubt give ideas to other countries who take copyright seriously," said Yann Colin, a lawyer for the publishers, Los Angeles Times reported.

Google’s response to the ruling
Meanwhile, Google has said it will appeal against the decision.

"French readers now face the threat of losing access to a significant body of knowledge and falling behind the rest of Internet users," Bloomberg quoted Philippe Colombet, director of development for Google Books in France, as saying in an e-mailed statement. "Displaying a limited number of short extracts from books complies with copyright legislation both in France and the U.S. — and improves access to books."

"We are more determined than ever to collaborate with publishers, in France and elsewhere, so that we can find new economic models with them," Colombet later said in a conference call, Bloomberg says.

European industries and governments have long been criticizing Google’s move to scan the French works for its digital library project, forcing the company to limit its accord to establish a Book Rights Registry to works published in the U.S., U.K., Australia, and Canada.