Google versus French book publishers

The proposals “do not mark any progress on the essential question of non-English language works pirated by Google,” said a statement by the Publisher’s Association (SNE), which groups most of France’s publishers.

“The SNE is maintaining its position by asking Google to respect the essential principle of prior consent by authors and publishers for use of their works,” it said.

The SNE noted that it has an ongoing court case against Google, seeking compensation from the US company which it accuses of counterfeiting French books by digitizing them and posting them online.

The Federation of European Publishers on Monday gave a cautious welcome to Google’s new proposals.

“It is positive that the parties considered the concerns of European publishers and made some steps, however we want to analyse more thoroughly the new settlement before giving a final comment,” it said.

Last Friday, Google and US authors and publishers submitted a revised settlement to a US judge seeking approval of an agreement that would let Google sell millions of books online.

The settlement seeks to address copyright and anti-trust objections raised by the US Department of Justice and others to the original version of the complicated legal agreement.

It narrows the definition of books covered under the settlement to those registered with the US Copyright Office by January 5 or published in Australia, Britain, Canada or the United States.

It also sets up an independent body which will be responsible for the interests of the rightsholders of “orphan works.” Unclaimed proceeds from orphan works would be used to try to locate rightsholders and be held for at least 10 years before being distributed to literacy-based charities in the United States, Canada, Britain and Australia.

Rival technology companies, privacy advocates, consumer watchdog groups and the French and German governments are among those who filed objections to the original settlement with the US District Court in New York hearing the case.

The US judge is expected to hold a so-called “fairness hearing” in February on whether or not to approve the settlement.

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Google versus French book publishers