From Times Online December 18, 2009


Gallic publishers hailed an historic victory over Google after a Paris court ruled that the internet giant had breached copyright by making hundreds of book extracts available online. It was ordered to pay E300,000 (£266,000) in damages.

The judgment came in the latest clash between the French Establishment and the Californian search engine, which has been denounced in Paris as a danger to the nation’s culture.

With France taking the lead in a campaign against Google’s plan to become the world’s online library, President Sarkozy announced this week that he would spend €750 million scanning French literary and artistic treasures. He hopes that they will form the backbone of a French-led rival to Google.

The court case was brought by Hervé de la Martinière, the French publisher, who said that Google had no right to digitise entire works without authorisation and to make extracts available on the internet.

The court found against Google only over 300 works available online, saying that the group had “committed acts of breach of copyright, which are of harm to the publishers”.

The ruling said Google cannot “seriously argue — unless it is casting doubt on the reason for the Google Books search engine — that creating a digital file from a book is not an act of reproduction.

“Digitising constitutes a reproduction of a work that must, if it falls under copyright protection, be done with the approval of the author or the copyright holders.”

Serge Eyrolles, chairman of the French Publishers’ Association, was jubilant. “This shows Google that they are not the kings of the world and they can’t do whatever they want,” he said.

“We are not going to be stripped of our heritage for the benefit of a big company, no matter how friendly, big or American it is,” Mr Sarkozy said last week as he outlined his drive to prevent Google becoming the main online provider of French culture.

Mr Mitterrand said French culture should not be allowed to “fall into private hands”.

You’ve got to say that the French take their ‘culture’ seriously!


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