[A2k] Barbara Casassus: Google and French authors, publishers settle

Manon Ress manon.ress at keionline.org
Mon Jun 11 08:49:57 PDT 2012

Google and French authors, publishers settle

11.06.12 | Barbara Casassus


Google and French publishers and authors have officially ended six
years of legal wrangles with the announcement of a framework agreement
for the US search engine to index and sell scanned out-of-print French
books with prior permission.

The blueprint will clear the way for other houses to follow the
example of Hachette Livre and Le Seuil-La Martinière, which signed
digitisation pacts with the US business in 2010 and 2011.

Referring to a "cultural revolution", French Publishers Association
(Syndicat National de l'Edition, SNE) president Antoine Gallimard said
the agreement "guarantees respect of authors' rights", but that
publishers would "remain vigilant".

They will be free to sign up or not and to "withdraw or authorise
titles for preview or for sale," said Philippe Colombet, strategic
partner development manager of Google Books for France. Revenues will
be shared, with the majority going to publishers. How big a majority
will depend on individual negotiations, he added.

Both the SNE and the French Authors Society (Société des Gens de
Lettres, SGDL) are scrapping their lawsuits against Google. Albin
Michel, Flammarion and Gallimard dropped their charges last September
to permit Google and the SNE to resume negotiations. A parallel
agreement for Google to finance the SGDL's creation of a database of
authors and rightsholders was also announced today.

The content of the blueprint was not disclosed, but it allows
"various" distribution options for scanned books, provided they are
not "direct competitors", Colombet said. The sale of electronic
versions of books still in print would be sold through Google Play,
which has not yet been launched in France.

The agreement comes several weeks before publication of the
application decree for a French law that was adopted early this year
to lay down the rules for scanning and selling orphan and other
out-of-print 20th-century works in the French National Library

Google, which has scanned a total of 20 million books under different
schemes since 2004, estimates that 75% of the world's books are
out-of-print and unavailable and that "an important share" of them was
published in the 20th century.

Google will also sponsor an SNE program called Young Reading Champions
that will promote reading among 10-11-year-olds and will be launched
at the beginning of the next school year in September.

"Our hope is that these path-breaking partnerships will help jumpstart
the emerging French electronic book market," Colombet said. "[They
put] France in the pole position as a pioneer." The aim is to
negotiate similar deals in other countries, he added.
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Manon Anne Ress
Knowledge Ecology International
1621 Connecticut Ave, NW, Suite 500
Washington, DC 20009 USA
manon.ress at keionline.org

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