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French Publishers Launch Suit Against Google

April 1, 2010

On Wednesday French publishers launched a second lawsuit against Google Inc. for digitally scanning their books for its online library.

“We are taking our turn at going into battle (against Google), along with some of our fellow publishers,” Antoine Gallimard, the chief executive of major French publisher Gallimard, told AFP at Paris’s annual book fair.

Gallimard said that three other big French publishers, Albin Michel, Flammarion and Eyrolles, would also join the suit.

He said that Google “has been making us promises for months, and yet continues with its illegal digitization,” without consent from the publishers and in breach of their copyright.

In December a French court ruled that Google breached the copyright of three publishers owned by the La Martiniere group by scanning entire books or excerpts and then making them available on the Internet.

It ordered Google to pay $406,000 in damages to the publishers and to stop digitizing French books without the consent of the publishers.  Google has since appealed the decision.

Opponents of Google’s online library have brought challenges in a U.S. court against its book-scanning agreement with U.S. authors and publishers.

Digitization has become bound up in France with the sensitive issue of protecting French cultural and intellectual property in recent months.

President Nicolas Sarkozy announced a government plan to scan the country’s national treasures, and vowed to protect French heritage at a time of suspicions over Google’s digitization drive.

Google said it reached an agreement this month with the Italian culture ministry to scan up to a million books housed in the national libraries of Rome and Florence.

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