Monday, November 9, 2009

French Publisher Sues Google Over Book Project; American Lawyer, via, 11/06/09

Richard Lloyd, American Lawyer, via; French Publisher Sues Google Over Book Project:

"Les Éditions de La Martinière filed suit in France in 2006 to stop Google's scanning operation, claiming that even though the vast majority of the scanning is done in the United States, the law being broken is French.

"It is an infernal machine, it never stops. It is a disgrace. It is cultural rape," huffed Serge Eyrolles, to the media, in the best tradition of French aesthetes, at a press conference in September. Eyrolles is the president of the Syndicat National de l'Edition, a group of French publishers that is also supporting the litigation. The publisher wants $25 million in damages, fines of around $150,000 for every reference to a La Martinière book on Google Book Search, and about $150,000 for every day that the books remain online after a judgment is handed down.

Google's lawyer, Herbert Smith partner Alexandra Neri, is having none of it. She describes Eyrolles's outburst as "a declaration from a Greek tragedy," adding prosaically, "New Internet services often draw passion."

The crux is whether French or U.S. copyright law should apply, says Yann Colin of Paris boutique Franklin, who represents La Martinière and writers group the Société des Gens de Lettres. Soon after Google started scanning books in the U.S. in 2004, chief executive officer Eric Schmidt announced that the company was taking advantage of the "fair use" doctrine, which enabled it to make available online an excerpt from every scanned book without the publishers' permission. Such a concept doesn't exist under French law."

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