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Google In Hot Water With French Book Publishers

May 12, 2011

Internet search giant Google was sued for $14 million by three French publishers who alleged the search engine scanned thousands of their books without permission.

Publishers Gallimard, Flammarion and Albin Michel filed the charges in a Paris court demanding restitution and Google has been issued a summons, a source in Gallimard’s legal department told AFP.

The publishers claim that Google scanned more than 9,750 copyright-protected works for its digital library. The publishers are seeking compensation equaling 1,400 dollars per book, Google said in a statement.

“We have been working with French publishers for some time to find ways to increase audiences and revenue opportunities for publishers, authors and booksellers,” the search company said. “We were surprised to receive this new claim… We remain convinced of the legality of Google Books and its compliance with French laws and international copyright.”

“We are committed to continue working with publishers to help them develop their digital offering and to make their works accessible to Internet users in France and abroad,” said Google.

Google reached an agreement six months ago with Lagardere SCA (MMB)’s Hachette Livre publishing to allow the scanning of out-of-print French books. In December 2009, a Paris court said that Google’s book project violated French copyrights and ordered the company to stop scanning works without permission. The company has appealed.

In November, however, Hachette Livre licensed Google to scan out-of-print books for which it holds the rights.

The publishers were not able to be reached for comment.

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