back to article Google Books opens French front in war with publishers

Google has been called on to defend its Books project in the French courts after a publisher accused it of copyright infringement on Thursday. Editions du Seuil is seeking €18m damages from the search giant for scanning its books without permission, Bloomberg reports. "The act of digitizing is to copy. It is a considerable …


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  1. DavCrav Silver badge

    Denies they have copyright?

    Google claims that if I write a book and they scan it, I lose the copyright for that? If this were true, this would be brilliant! So I digitize records and the copyright is lost, right? Or take VHS tapes and digitize them, and I can do what I want with them?

    Thought not.

  2. npupp 1



    maybe google will (do some good?) set legal precedent for "digitising removes copyright" thus saving all those French teenieboppers who would otherwise get mum and dad threatened with disconnection (under HADOPI 2) for downloading cam-tastic screeners of the latest Teen-Sparkly-Vampire-Rom-Drama. It was an analogue to digital conversion, thats not copywritten, google proved so :D

  3. James O'Brien

    Say what?????

    How the hell can Google claim that if they scan a book the author has no electronic copyright? Seriously? How the hell can this kind of logic be uttered let alone though? Im going to go beat my head against a wall now because then, MAYBE, I'll be able to understand that logic.

  4. Steve Roper

    You forgot something guys

    You are not a multinational corporation in control of the Internet. Digitisation removes copyright only when Google does it. Not when you do it, because you're supposed to be the good little consumerbots that make money for the likes of Google. It's one law for them and another for us, remember?

  5. Anonymous Coward

    <insert title>

    Anyone can scan a book, it's what you do after that's important.

    If Google publish that document without permission, then they are in breach of copyright. It doesn't matter if they have been unable to contact the copyright holder. It would be no different to someone re-printing a book without the author's/copyright holders permission. That it is online in an electronic format is completely irrelevant.

  6. Greg 10

    Please read the google comments before commenting

    3 comments, and 3 which miss the point completely.

    The point is certainly not whether digitising removes the copyright, which is obviously absurd.

    Gogle is not making that point at all.

    Instead, it is fighting back on a narrow point, saying the PUBLISHER does not hold the right to the electronic distribution.

    If *I* am an author and I give the rights to Editions du Seuil to publish me in paper, it doesn't mean Editions du Seuil can sue whoever they want because they publish it online. *I* am the one who still owns the publication rights to the online version, and thus if Google scans the book, then *I* am the one whose copyright is infringed upon.

    Possibly, I am very happy with Google being my Master and Overlord. Or possibly, I'm too small to be able to fight back and thus Google can trample my rights freely which would not be the case against Editions du Seuil.

    To sum it up, read the article again, Google doesn't say scanning removes the copyright, it just says the owners of the digital copyright is not the one who's suing them, probably hoping that the actual owners are small guys who won't be able to take over the suing.

  7. Sooty


    if google are scanning a paper copy and then publishing that digitally, they are very much infringing on the copyright of the paper version.

    The digital distribution argument only holds water if they are copying a digital version!

  8. The First Dave
    Dead Vulture


    This article would have been an awful lot more interesting if there were some hint as to what Google's defence was? Is it simply that while they are breaking copyright, the accuser does not hold that right themselves, and therefore they can only be sued by the original author?

  9. Greg 10

    Re: depends

    I don't know. Is there a copyright of the page numbering and the character type?

    I'm not convinced there is any copyright whatsoever attached to the actual layout of the book (unless there are some pictures, or an introduction by the editor, or whatever, but that can be removed).

    Am I liable for copyright infringement if I scan a page of a given edition of the bible (assuming there's no art on it, just plain text) and put it online?

    I'm far from convinced. And if not, then it means the form itself holds no copyright, and thus scanning even a copyrighted work creates no infringement beyond the infringement of the work itself.

    I'm not saying there is no copyright for the layout of a book, just saying I'm really not sure about.

  10. Arcadian

    Re: re:depends

    Greg 10 - in the UK the publisher holds copyright in the typography and layout ('typographical arrangement') of a book for twenty-five years after publication (see Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, 1.1.15). Even if a work goes out of print within that time, and an author reverts the rights to the text, the publisher continues to keep the rights to the typographical arrangement. (And fair enough: a lot of work generally goes into design and typesetting.)

    I don't know whether French law on intellectual property has a similar provision relating to the typographical arrangement in an edition. But even if it doesn't, that doesn't necessarily mean that typography and layout are not protected: it is possible they are covered under broad provisions protecting creative works.

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