French court finds Google guilty over copyright

<p>A French court has become the first to find Google guilty of violating copyright by digitising books and putting extracts online, following a legal challenge by French publisher La Martiniere.<br /><br />La Martiniere, the world&rsquo;s first publisher to take Google to court over its book scanning programme, was backed by French publishers association (SNE) and the French Writers Union (SGDL). It had demanded &euro;15m in damages. However, Reuters reports that the court ordered Google to pay just &euro;300,000 in damages and interest and to stop digital reproduction of the material.</p><p>&quot;Even if we can&#39;t undo the process of digitalisation, this means they cannot use any of the digitised material any more,&quot; Yann Colin, lawyer for La Martiniere told Reuters.</p><p>The SNE and the SGDL welcomed the ruling and said in a joint statement that it opened &quot;new perspectives&quot;, as it applied to all French publishers and authors whose books had been digitised and posted online without permission. The French case &quot;was alone in defending authors&rsquo; rights against the internet giant&quot;, said the two organisations, who were each awarded a symbolic euro. Herv&eacute; de la Martini&egrave;re, chairman and chief executive of La Martini&egrave;re group, is due to comment on 21st December on the court ruling.</p><p>Google has now said it will appeal.</p><p>Robin Fry, partner for law firm Beachcroft, said: &quot;As in France, our &#39;fair use&#39; laws don&#39;t allow digitisation of books unless the publishers (and often the authors) specifically consent. Google operates an act-now, negotiate-later attitude which has worked for its other services such as Google Images (where reproduction of the thumbnail images invariably infringes copyright). But this is a high-risk strategy in countries like France which has very high regard for authors&#39; rights. The same battle is yet to be fought in Britain.&quot; </p>