Google a few years ago began an initiative to scan millions of books and digitize them. This met with hefty resistance from a number of French Publishers, who said these books were scanned without their consent. This sparked a few hefty lawsuits against the company and La Martiniere ended up winning 300,000 in damages. It seems the publishing community in France has reached an agreement with Google, but the scanned books may not be free.
It seems many of the books Google is scanning in France will be sold on Google Play, with a large amount still being offered for free on Google Books. Publishing companies will still retain the overall rights for the books and will be free to market and charge for them. This agreement should appease both the French Publishers Association and the French Author’s Association, who promptly withdrew their respective lawsuits.
“Much of the world’s information is found on the printed page,” says Philippe Colombet, Strategic Partner Development Manager of Google Books for France. “But almost 75 percent of the world’s books are out of print and unavailable except to the lucky few who can find old copies in libraries. In this win-win solution, publishers and authors retain control over the commercial use of their books – while at the same time, opening a practical path to bring to a wide audience our decade-long efforts to digitize books. We remain hopeful to reach a solution in the US allowing us to make the world’s books searchable and discoverable online.”