Major setback for Google Books in latest French ruling

A Paris court has ordered Google to pay over 300,000 Euros in fines and to desist from reproducing further copyrighted materials through Google Books. Google will be given one month to remove currently infringing excerpts or face a 10,000 Euros fine each day until it removes certain French extracts on the database.

The claimants, La Martiniere, originally sued Google in 2006 for 15 million Euros in damages and interests for digitising and reproducing sections of copyrighted books online without paying any royalties or seeking any authorisation. They argued that publishers were suffering from loss of sales as users could access material without paying. The claim was supported by the French Publisher’ Association and many other publishers and authors.

Google argues that its activities are legal and are planning to appeal the decision. In their defence, only short extracts from some books were scanned. All of the pages contained links that allowed users to purchase full versions of the book online from retailers.

The case is another good example of the way in which the French droit d’auteur model has granted authors a higher level of protection through its principles of natural rights. This protection is higher than say in the US where Google continues to fight on in protecting its database of digitised books.

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