Google Books Suffers Defeat In French Court

By: Doug Caverly - December 18, 2009

The Google Books project suffered a significant blow today in France as a Paris court found Google guilty of copyright violations.  The search giant’s been ordered to stop scanning books, remove information from its database, and pay some hefty fines.

French publishers brought the lawsuit against Google because they objected to the company scanning (and sharing) books without their permission.  Their cause received a great deal of support, with even French President Nicolas Sarkozy recently promising to take a stand against Google.

Now, Google’s supposed to pay the publishers a lump sum of $432,000 by way of compensation, and is also expected to hand over $14,000 for every day that it doesn’t erase data derived from digitized French books.

Plus, as Yann Colin, a lawyer for Editions du Seuil SAS, told Heather Smith, "The decision is immediately enforceable, so even if they appeal, they must stop the scanning."

It’s hard to guess where Google will go from here.  Admitting defeat could be catastrophic for the Google Books program, as it might encourage publishers all over the world to fight back.  At the same time, an appeal doesn’t seem likely to accomplish much.

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Doug Caverly

About the Author

Doug CaverlyDoug is a staff writer for WebProNews. Visit WebProNews for the latest eBusiness news.

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  • Gilbert

    If Google removes all those French books, the French will start crying (I’m French myself).
    It’s all about money. Those guys are using Copyright law just for MONEY, CASH. No superior motive,
    no, don’t dream. They’re just interesting in making money.

    So. They don’t print those books because THEY think they won’t be able to sell them.
    So we have TONS of books that are no longer available because those morons don’t want to re-print them.
    At the same time, when Google offers excepts, so it’s not the full books, we can find an old book we want,
    and pay for it. But no. They prefer Google not to offer this incredible service to us, and they will keep the
    book not available unless there is enough profit for them to do so.

    And when the book finally ends in the public domain, they will make a new revised version if ever required,
    and while the original text will be “public domain” the modified version won’t be, of course. They want to do
    money, they don’t care at all about culture or preservation of it.

    Google should ban them from the Google books. And when after 5 to 10 years, no French book can be found,
    and all the research only makes referals to English books, they will come back at Google crying like puppies,
    and Google will be able to choose their conditions, and the price (like having that fine money be paid back…..)

    In Spain, the media attacked Google and Google removed them from the Google News.
    And because no one was coming to their websites because 99 % of the people coming there was
    coming thru… Google News, they started to cry and now they’re outraged to be left outside.

    That’s when you use the stick they used to kick you on the head, to kick them back.


    Some may not like it, but there is such a thing as intellectual property, and pilfering without compensation is not generally accepted. I don’t see how the court could have found otherwise, and lets see what solution may or may not come from Google.

  • Carl Barron

    Why don

  • utmem

    It seems what is needed is a consensus agreement from the copyright holders BEFORE Google starts using the material.

    Surely, if it is about money, Google can offer the French Copyright owners or ANY copyright owner a share in revenue PRIOR to publication?

  • Guest

    Google is a search engine, not a republishing house, stupide! It helps us find things, but it is not the thing itself. Think: “Ceci n’est pas une pipe” (This is not a pipe) — Ren

  • revoltage

    I agree with Gilbert that France (and many other countries) are ridiculous trying to protect their traditional property rights, just to get more money (or so they think). Like him, I will be laughing when France comes back in a few years begging Google to help them stop french literature from disappearing.
    I think he should have been clearer that the problem is usually not because of the artist or the country, but because of the country’s big publishing companies, who always do their best to steal money everywhere they can, and do everything to protect this comfortable way of making money (even if it includes corrupting their little friends in the government)
    I’m also part French, and I also think France is even better than the others at staying in their little traditionalist protective shell and making sure nothing changes.

    To publish media (music, movies, books…), the artist/creator has to pass through a publishing company. this publishing company becomes the owner of the artwork. it sells it, makes lots of money, and then gives a tiny part of the money to the artist/creator.

    But today, it’s becoming easier and easier for artists to publish their work all by themselves, thanks to the internet. the only problem is, publishing/distributing companies are becoming close to useless. Many of these companies are losing money. All of them are seeing their world change. That’s why the’re fighting all around to protect their precious little publishing rights.

    Those gigantic publishing companies are fighting against downloading, fighting against independant artists, fighting against google. They have the means to keep on fighting, because all the money they have STOLEN from the artists in the past decades gives them lots of power. But soon enough, they’ll simply run short on money. In their despair, they’ll try to turn to new solutions, like selling things online for low prices, but very few will make it. Hopefully, most of them will end up going BANKRUPT. It would be GOOD FOR THEM.we don’t need them anymore!


    DEAR SIR OR MADAM: Just to say that if you give a free sample of something to a potential customer, he will probably want more – and he’ll be willing to pay for that particular product. Do you recall those lovely Reader’s Digest condensed hardbacks? Those were the volumes that introduced ME to a host of new authors at the time. And if I liked a particular novel, I went out and bought it! So, come on, Monsieur Google, DON’T let that French court ruling hurt you. There are many, many authors who will back you up. Ask them!
    REGARDS, Desmond, Dublin, Southern Ireland.
    DATE: Sunday, May 29, 2011.