Google Books Backpedals

    September 8, 2009

Google’s scaled back its literature-related plans in the hopes of not angering publishers and regulators in Europe; the company has said that it won’t add content to Google Books if it’s available for sale on that continent.  At least a few important critics seem unimpressed, however, as France is objecting in a U.S. court. 

Originally, Google was just concerned about what was and wasn’t in print in the U.S. and in copyright according to American law.  The offer of a $125 million settlement helped it clear the road on this front.

According to John Paczkowski, Google then grew a little more understanding of international objections on Monday, stating, "Books that are commercially available in Europe will be treated as commercially available under the Settlement.  Such books can only be displayed to US users if expressly authorised by rights holders."

Still, a key point is that the $125 million settlement has yet to be approved by a U.S. District Court (a decision’s due next month), and it’s to this court that France is submitting a complaint.

The move puts France in step with Germany, and signals that protests are really mounting.  Google might see it as especially troubling since, just last month, the National Library of France was supposed to be on the verge of a Google Books deal, too.