Fine for Google over French books

A Paris court has found Google guilty of copyright infringement in a ruling which could have ramifications for its plans to digitise the world’s books.  The search giant must pay 300,000 euros (£266,000) in damages and interest to French publisher La Martiniere.

It was one of many to take Google to court for digitising its books without explicit permission. Google was also ordered to pay 10,000 euros a day until it removes extracts of the books from its database. Google expressed disappointment at the ruling.

“French readers now face the threat of losing access to a significant body of knowledge and falling behind the rest of internet users,” said a spokesman for the firm. Serge Eyrolles, head of the French publisher’s union Syndicat National de l’Edition, said he was “completely satisfied with the verdict”. “It shows Google that they are not the kings of the world and they can’t do whatever they want,” he said.

Google wants to scan millions of books to make them available online. This court case will be seen as a victory for critics of the plan who fear Google is creating a monopoly over information. Publisher Herve de La Martiniere launched his court case three years ago but Google continued to scan books during this period.

La Martiniere, the French Publishers’ Association and authors’ group SGDL who started the court battle initially demanded that Google be fined 15m euros (£13.2m). The book publishers claimed that scanning books was an act of reproduction and, as such, was something that should be paid for. Google’s plans to establish a digital library have hit several buffers.

It agreed to a settlement with US authors and publishers but is renegotiating after the US Justice Department concluded that the deal violates anti-trust law.


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