French publishers drop charges against Google

French publishers Albin Michel, Flammarion and Gallimard have confirmed they have dropped charges against Google for digitising copyrighted books from their catalogues without prior permission.

The three said they had decided to abandon the summons against Google France and Google Inc that they had filed on 6th May and 3rd June in order to "facilitate the resumption of talks between the French publishers association (Syndicat National de l'Edition, SNE) and Google over the digitation of copyrighted books and the search for an amicable solution to the litigation". However, they added they reserved the right to revive the case if the talks fell through.

Google halted discussions with the SNE in May after the three said they would take it to court, a situation complicated by the fact that Gallimard chief Antoine Gallimard is also SNE president.

Publisher La Martinère dropped its case against Google in August when it signed an agreement for the digital company to scan the copyrighted books of its choice. The SNE and the French authors society (Société des Gensde Lettres, SDGL) had joined La Martinière in the case, which is now in appeal.

"We suppose and hope that talks with Google will resume soon, although we don't have a date in our diaries yet," said Christine de Mazières, SNE director. Meanwhile, the SNE's legal case continues, and the appeal hearing is scheduled for February 2012, she added.  

Reacting to reports last week that the three appeared to be dropping the case, Philippe Colombet, director of Google Books in France, said: "This is a great news. We always said we are keen to discuss constructively and work with publishers around the world to preserve and disseminate our important cultural treasures, and to find new business opportunities for authors and publishers."