back to article French culture minister flames Google over book scan plan

Frederic Mitterrand delivered another Francoslap to Google yesterday, threatening to eject the book-devouring search giant from the effort to digitise the French National Library. Mitterrand, France’s culture minister, said that the firm had to radically rethink its approach to its book scanning crusade, the FT reports, if it …


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  1. Stef 2
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    What do we get?

    "What do the libraries get?"

    What are libraries for?

    This will be better accomplished by Google.

    Thank you and bon nuit.

    1. Trevor Zettler

      Re: "What do we get?"

      "What are libraries for"

      They're not for the dissemination of keyword ads nor for the purpose of lining the pockets of Google Execs.

      Let's not pretend that Google's motives are pure.

  2. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge
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    Most countries seem to be able to churn out legislation quickly enough when they want to so why not simply legislate against Google's paper-grab ?

    Or more fairly, legislate that works cannot be committed to exclusivity deals with licensing control placed in others hands. That allows Google to keep scanning 'for the public good' and gives everyone else an equal playing field. If it really is an altruistic gesture by Google they should have no problems with such laws.

  3. Candy
    Thumb Up


    I think I have a new favourite word...

  4. pedrodude

    El Reg strikes again

    Nothing really to say about the article but props to El Reg for "Francoslap". You owe me a keyboard!

  5. Richard Brown
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    What a bunch of cry babies

    Just the other day some French group (Avenir de la langue française) were complaining about the domination of English in International Business, Diplomacy, the EU. It was all an Anglo Saxon conspiracy to rule the world.

    However the Acadamie Francaise has been shooting itself in the foot for years by opposing the introduction of "alien" words into the French language. One of the strengths of English has been its adoption of words from other languages including French as well as Hindi, Urdu, Arabic and many others. Complaining that Google are being unfair when they wish to make digital copies available around the world (and not just in dusty shelves in some obscure building in Paris) is blowing the other foot off as well.

    Anyway the Ruler of the World competition was won by the Anglosphere at the Battle of Plassey in 1757 and confirmed in 1805 at Trafalgar. France came second. The finals of the next round of Ruler of the World competition will be between India and China.

    1. Neoc

      Re: Academie Francaise.

      I think you have the wrong idea about the relationship between the Academie Francaise and the French language. If the public wants to use foregin words in their conversation, or an author wants to use them in his/her publications, the A.F. does not raise a word about it (unless the work is about the French language per-se). However, the A.F. is the repository of the definition of the French language. Think of it as the ultimate Oxford Dictionary, but without the regular yearly inclusions of new words because they're "popular".

      In other words, if you want to speak "academic" French, you follow the definition laid down by the Academie Francaise. If you wish to use "popular" French, no need to bother. It's like the difference between ANSI-C and C.NET - technically ANSI-C is the "official" C, but lots of people use the Microsoft version with the Windows-specific inclusions.

      <hmm... rambled on longer than I'd intended>

    2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      No kidding

      "Avenir de la langue française", eh ? They'd be better off looking at how our teenagers are "writing" (I use the term in the purely technical sense) these days.

      Methinks that, in the next twenty years, Avenir de la langue française will be populated by the kids that grew up writing CMMNT CA VA ? instead of Comment ça va ? and, at that point, it will be a damn good thing that English is the international language of choice, because French is drowning in its own ignorance.

      And there is no Mitterand that is going to change that.

  6. browntomatoes

    Nothing more than slavish copying

    From what I understand, case law varies in different countries as to whether a copyright can even exist for this type of thing - in the US, it is not possible as it is deemed to lack originality, whereas in the UK (and possibly France?), it IS possible to copyright a copy.

    So one possible solution would be to amend French law to align with US case law (Bridgeman Art Library v. Corel Corp.) on this aspect. So the French ensure that Google's scans are not copyrightable in France, and then agree some sort of partial exclusivity (maybe a right of first refusal for Google to scan books?). Result - the books are free for everyone to access as anyone can simply copy Google's version without issue, but Google still gets what they want

  7. Filippo

    sounds reasonable, actually

    If what Google wants is to scan books in the public domain, and get exclusive rights for 20 years, I think the French government does well to forbid it. That is NOT what "public domain" means. If anyone else wants to scan the books, they should have as much right to do so as Google. The fact that Google is going to exploit the scans for commercial purposes (by putting ads in them) only compounds the problem. You are allowed to make money from public domain works, but not by restricting what other people can do with them. Google should be allowed to do the scans of public domain texts, but it shouldn't get any sort of exclusivity deal.

  8. Futumsh

    Not invented here

    The French are just sore that they didn't invent Le Google. It's like the contaminated blood scandal of the 80's all over again - they'll go an invent their own book scanning tool and the French will use it.

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