French publishers Albin Michel, Flammarion and Gallimard are suing Google for having scanned 9,797 books without prior permission for its Google Book Search programme, a publishing source told The Bookseller. Livres Hebdo had earlier reported that lawyers for the three filed suit on 6th May, and are demanding €1,000 per title in damages, bringing the total to nearly €9.8m.
Listings obtained in May 2009 from the US judge in charge of the Google Book Settlement, Denny Chin, show that Google had digitised 4,302 books from Gallimard’s backlist, 2,950 from Flammarion’s and 2,545 from Albin Michel’s. The total number of titles cited excludes those scanned since then and those of the publishers’ subsidiaries, another publishing source said.
The €1,000 per title in damages mirrors the December 2009 court award to the La Martinière group, which sued Google for the same reason, the source said. The French Publishers Association (Syndicat National de l’Edition, SNE) and the French Writers Union (Société des Gens de Lettres, SGDL) joined La Martinière in the litigation. A verdict in Google’s appeal is still awaited.
At the 2010 Paris Book Fair, Gallimard c.e.o. Antoine Gallimard had announced that the three publishers would take legal action against Google. "It was high time to show Google that it can no longer violate authors’ rights, at least in France," added the second source.