Google loses French copyright case

In copyright infringement case, Paris court orders the search giant to pay $430,000 to French publisher La Martiniere for publishing extracts of its books.

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney
2 min read

Google said Friday that a Paris court has ruled against it in a lengthy copyright infringement case filed by a French publisher.

The court has ordered the search giant to pay 300,000 euros ($430,000) in damages and interest to French company La Martiniere, which runs the Editions du Seuil publishing firm. The lawsuit charged that Google was infringing on the copyrights of the publisher's books by scanning excerpts to include in its Google Book search results. La Martiniere's argument was that Google should compensate authors and publishers if the company is going to scan and publish their work on its site.

As part of the ruling, Google must also pay 10,000 euros each day until it removes the extracts. Unhappy with the verdict, Google said it plans to appeal, according to Bloomberg.

"French readers now face the threat of losing access to a significant body of knowledge and falling behind the rest of Internet users," said Philippe Colombet, director of development for Google Books in France, in a statement e-mailed to Bloomberg. "We believe that displaying a limited number of short extracts from books complies with copyright legislation both in France and the U.S.--and improves access to books."

The suit was originally filed in May 2006 by La Martiniere and later joined by the French Publishers Association and French authors group SGDL, which had initially asked the court to fine Google as much as 15 million euros, according to Reuters.

This suit is just one of several filed by publishers and authors upset with Google posting excerpts of their books online without fairly compensating them. In 2008, Google lost a lawsuit filed by the Authors Guild and was ordered to pay authors and publishers $125 million as compensation. An amended agreement in November clarified certain changes and updates to the settlement.

But objections to Google's book digitizing projects have been especially strident in Europe, forcing the company to make concessions to European publishers over which books it will and will not scan and publish online.