A French publishing group is suing Google for "counterfeiting and breach of intellectual property rights" over its controversial book scanning and digitization project, the Agence France-Presse news agency reported Tuesday.
The suit, to be filed in a Paris court, is being brought by La Martiniere, which owns publishers Le Seuil in France, Delachaux and Niestle in Switzerland, and Harry N. Abrams in the United States, the AFP said.
In a statement, Google said the lawsuit was without merit and that it would contest it in court.
"Google Book Search helps users find and buy books - not read or download them for free. It is directly beneficial to authors and their publishers because it enables them to reach a wider global audience, while protecting their copyrights," Google said. "If publishers do not wish their books to be part of our project all they have to do is tell us and we exclude them and exclude their works. There is no need for any court case."
The move follows threatened legal action from France's National Publishers' Union (SNE), which represents 400 publishers. United Kingdom publishers also were blasting Google over its plans this week.
The Google Print Library Project faces two copyright-related lawsuits in the United States from author and publisher groups, who claim that scanning copyright protected books and making them searchable online violates their copyright. Google argues that copyright is protected because it is only showing snippets of the work, unless the book is in the public domain.