La Martinière and Google sign agreement

French publisher La Martinière has dropped its legal action against Google and signed an agreement with it to scan specified out-of-print French language titles. 

The publisher was locked in a five-year long legal battle against Google for having digitised copyrighted books without permission. The pact is similar to the one finalised last month with Hachette Livre, which was aimed to serve as a model for other French houses.

The difference is that La Martinière and Google will draw up a catalogue including both the titles already scanned in partnership with American libraries and those to be covered by the latest deal, a Google France spokesperson said. The publisher will decide which titles will be withdrawn and which will be scanned.

Several thousand titles could be involved, La Martinière c.e.o. Hervé de La Martinière said. The group will be able to sell the scanned books through the Google e-books platform on a revenue-sharing basis, with the publisher earning the undisclosed majority share, the Google spokesperson added.

Hachette Livre’s agreement will last for five years, but La Martinière and Google did not disclose the duration of their pact. "The notion of time makes no sense," La Martinière told The Bookseller. "It is a new type of agreement, so we will need to see how it goes and adapt it if necessary." A Google spokesperson added it hopes more such agreements with French publishers will follow.

La Martinière filed charges against Google in 2006 and on 18th December 2008 won a court order for €300,000 in damages, and €10,000 for each day that the contested titles remained in Google’s database. Google lodged an appeal and had been waiting for the verdict.

The French publishers association and the French authors society joined La Martinière in the case but have not yet said whether they will also drop charges. If they do not, their part of the appeal will stand.