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Google settles France book scanning lawsuit

Google [corporate website] has reached a settlement with a group of French authors, ending a lawsuit challenging its book-scanning initiative [Google Books search website], which displayed scanned images of select pages of books, according to a joint statement [text, PDF, in French]. The Societe des Gens de Lettres (SGDL) [official website] and Google reported Monday that they had "reached an agreement to promote initiatives for the dissemination of digital books ... in respect of copyright." The agreement ends a six-year lawsuit [AFP report] disputing the legality of the scanned book images. Google had previously appealed a 2009 decision [JURIST report] by a French court finding that Google Books violated copyright laws. Philippe Colombet, Director of Google Books France, said the agreement was beneficial for both parties and would allow them to "move forward constructively" in providing access to French books and authors.

Google Books' scanning initiative has raised questions of copyright around the world. A judge for the US District Court for the Southern District of New York last week granted class action status [JURIST report] to numerous authors suing Google the initiative, finding that Google has scanned millions of books without consent of the authors, and each author's claim arises out of the same conduct by Google. In March of last year a judge rejected an amended class action settlement agreement that was reached in 2008 between Google and the plaintiffs, who brought the copyright suit [JURIST reports] in 2005. The settlement agreement stated that Google would pay $125 million to the authors and publishers of copyrighted works in exchange for the permission to display up to 20 percent of the work online. The court reasoned that the settlement agreement would allow Google too much freedom to exploit copyrighted works in the future. This ruling came a month after Chin delayed [JURIST report] it because he was not ready.

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