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June 12, 2012

Google settles book scanning dispute with French publishers

The agreement ends six-year legal dispute with French publishers over the scanning of books

By CBR Staff Writer

Google has reached an agreement with two French organisations representing authors and book publishers, capping its six-year legal dispute over the scanning of books.

Following the deal, both the French Publishers Association (Syndicat national de l’édition) and the French Author’s Association (Société des gens de lettres) have withdrawn their suits which had sued Google for copyright infringement.

Google Books France strategic partner development manager Philippe Colombet said, "In this win-win solution, publishers and authors retain control over the commercial use of their books, while at the same time, opening the possibility for out-of-print books to reach a wide audience.

"Our hope is that these partnerships will boost the emerging French electronic book market. They make France a pioneer in spreading knowledge in the digital world," he added.

"We remain hopeful of reaching a solution in the US allowing us to make the world’s books searchable and discoverable online."

According to the deal, French publishers and authors will be allowed to sell digital copies of books Google has scanned, with Google sharing revenue from it while individual publishers will sign separate agreeements to sell the digitised books.

As per the deal, Google will sponsor publishers’ new Young Reading Champions Program, which will promote reading among young people.

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SNE, which represents some 600 publishing houses, said the two parties reached an agreement enabling it to encourage initiatives to publish digital books and creative diversity while respecting the rights of the author.

"This announcement marks a positive advance for updating France’s print heritage under copyright and contributes to expanding the availability of digital books," the company added.

Over the past two years, Google has inked deals with several French collecting societies representing musicians, screenwriters and other creators.

French authors and publishers had sued Google, separately, for copyright violations back in 2006.

US authors and publishers also sued Google although it reached an agreement with the American Author’s Guild and Association of American Publishers in 2008.

In 2011, a US District court in New York, however, rejected that agreement.

Most recently, a US federal judge granted class-action certification to authors challenging Google.

The latest agreement with the two French bodies will give Google a boost to its library-digitisation programme, which has been facing several legal cases since it started the project in 2004.

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