US Internet giant Google has suffered a blow in its bid to create a digital library of the world’s books.
A court in France says the firm has infringed copyright laws there by scanning books and making extracts available online. Google must now pay 300,000 euros in damages and an extra 10,000
euros a day until the extracts are removed from its database.
It is a victory for French publisher La Martiniere which brought the case to court. Its lawyer, Yann Colin, says the verdict will serve as a reference and encourage others to take similar legal action.
But Google sees things very differently. Praised by some for increasing access to literature and breathing new life into out-of-print works, it plans to appeal.
“We believe that online access to very short extracts is in accordance with copyright,” said Google’s lawyer Benjamin du Chaffaut. “You must remember that the Google Book Search project encourages and facilitates access to works by as many people as possible and thus contributes to their commercialisation.”
Wary of Google’s digital revolution, the French government has announced its own multi-million euro plans to digitise the nation’s cultural treasures.