Google Books Suffers Defeat In French Court

    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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