French filmmaker sues Google Video

A French film company filed a lawsuit against Google in the Paris Commercial Court, charging the search giant with copyright infringement.

Flach Film says that Google acted not as a simple host but as a fully responsible publisher in allowing Google Video users to stream or download the Flach-produced documentary, Le monde selon Bush , or The World According to Bush.

The film, which no longer appears to be available on the French Google Video site, had more than 43,000 views in a short period of time, Flach said. The Google Video site displays a tally of how many people have viewed each video.

Flach Film distributes the film for display in theaters and on DVD and says that by enabling access to the film for free, Google Video France runs foul of France’s intellectual property laws.

Flach is asking the court to require Google to pay for the losses it has incurred by not being compensated for the display of the film on Google Video.

Google quickly removed the film from Google Video once it learned of the unauthorized copies posted on the site, it said in a statement. Uploading videos illegally goes against the terms and conditions of Google Video, Google said.

It’s unclear if this suit is the same one that Google revealed during a recent quarterly filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. At the time, Google said that it had been the subject of a lawsuit regarding a single video that briefly appeared on the site.

Google recently purchased YouTube, the popular online video-sharing service, and since then industry observers have wondered if Google might become the subject of costly lawsuits from the owners of content distributed without authorization on the site.

Google is the subject of other lawsuits that charge the company with illegally posting content. A group of newspaper publishers in Belgium is suing the company for copyright infringement over the way that it posts snippets of stories in Google News. Book publishers are also suing Google over its Book Search offering.

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