French publishers join Google booksearch lawsuit

An association representing 400 French book publishers has joined La Martinière Groupe in its lawsuit to stop Google from digitizing books for its Google Book Search service.

La Martinière filed suit against Google and its French subsidiary in a French court on June 6, accusing the search engine of counterfeiting. It asked the court to stop the search engine from scanning its books, and demanded €1 million (US$1.3 million) in damages. The publisher said Google had illegally copied at least 100 of its copyright works and included them in its Google Book Search without permission.

“The French Publishers’ Association is intervening alongside La Martinière Groupe … to defend the interests of the profession,” the association said in a statement last week.

The association said that Google had digitized, in addition to works in the public domain, a number of protected works, and had allowed access to multiple extracts from these works through its search engine Google Book Search without the permission of the rights holders, with no regard for the fundamental rules of the law of intellectual property.

Google Book Search allows readers to find citations in the books that Google has scanned.

One of the issues at stake is the way Google presents the search results: They are shown graphically as a ragged-edged piece of paper, as if torn from a book.

That angers the French publishers because it portrays their work as just one step away from the trash can, said Tessa Destais, a spokeswoman for La Martinière.

“We know that Google is powerful, but they have to show some respect for books,” she said Monday.

Destais expects the court to begin its action before the end of the year.

Google representatives in France could not immediately comment on the matter. The company is currently embroiled in legal action in Belgium, where newspaper publishers are disputing the way it uses headlines from the news stories they publish online in its Google News search service.

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