Google Digital Books Held to Violate French Copyright Law

By Minara El-Rahman on December 28, 2009 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

A Parisian court has decided that Google digital books violates French copyright law. This ruling is just the beginning over litigation about Google's project to scan books on their search engine. Information Week reports that a French judge ordered that Google pay $300,000 euros ($430,000) in damages to a French publisher, Martiniere and a group of other publishers in France. The judge has also ordered that Google must pay an additional $10,000 euros for every day that the search engine keeps the extracts from the publishers' books in its database.

Google has announced that it will appeal the ruling. It told Information Week: "We disagree with the judge's decision and will appeal the judgement. We believe that 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." Google argues that the ruling will only hurt the readers of France because they will no longer be able to search and review books that they would be interested in buying. Google digital books are not really books per se. They are just excerpts of books that pop up in search results.

However, this was enough to draw the ire of publishers in the U.S. and abroad in countries such as France. While Google has recently made a deal with publishers in the United States, the Dept. of Justice (DOJ) has pulled the deal because they claim that the deal may violate anti-trust laws.

The Google digital books project is an ambitious project that aims to scan all books in the entire world in five years. French publishers worry that the project sends the wrong message. They claim that Google is trying take over the world. Serge Eyrolles, president of France's Syndicat National de l'Edition told AP that the decision is what Google needed in order to prevent their hubris: "It shows Google that they are not the kings of the world and they can't do whatever they want." He also said that 80% of the French books scanned by Google are copyright protected.

The lawsuit decision came right before an announcement by an all-French consortium of technology companies and government-backed IT research labs that they will soon launch an alternative to Google's digitization of French archives, reported USA Today.

This lawsuit is just one of the many that Google will have face because of this project. USA Today reports that a Chinese lawsuit regarding the Google digital book project is slated to take place later this month.

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