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Report: Google near Book Search deal in France

After opposing Google's efforts to digitize the world's books, the national library of France is near a deal with the search giant to obtain access to its archives, according to a report.

Google is about to sign a deal with the French national library to grant patrons access to Google's archive of scanned books, according to a report.

France's La Tribune reported Tuesday (spotted by The Times Online) that the Bibliotheque Nationale de France has all but given up on its own attempt to create a digital library in partnership with other European countries, paving the way for Google Book Search to get a foothold on the continent. Google declined to comment on whether a deal had been reached, providing this statement: "Like we've always said, we'd be delighted to work with a prestigious institution such as the BNF and are currently in talks with them, but have nothing to announce at this time."

At one point, the BNF had hoped to create a counterweight to Google's digital book ambitions, fearing that English works would dominate those created by non-English speakers and "place interpretation of French and other continental European literature, history, philosophy and even politics in American hands," according to a 2005 New York Times article. But Quarero, the result of that initiative, has not really gotten off the ground and on a limited budget, couldn't really hope to compete with the resources Google has devoted to scanning books.

So, the BNF is taking a "if you can't beat them, join them" strategy, according to the reports. A BNF representative told The Times Online that it won't stop its own digitization efforts but plans to add Google's archives to its own.

Back in the U.S., the waiting period for Google's settlement with book publishers that will enable the project to move forward is almost done, with a September deadline for authors to opt out of the settlement looming. A final hearing is scheduled for October.