French publishers Albin Michel, Flammarion and Gallimard appear to be dropping charges against Google for digitising copyrighted books without prior permission, at least for the moment, the trade weekly Livres Hebdo has reported.
The three publishers informed the online giant in May they would sue it for €9.8m for scanning 9,797 titles, but they failed to lodge the case with a Paris court by the deadline of 6th September. This suggests that they may be on the verge of signing a similar agreement with Google to those concluded with Hachette Livre and La Martinière, but does not preclude them from reviving the process if talks fall through.
Hachette Livre finalised its agreement for Google to digitise out-of-print copyrighted French-language titles of the publisher’s choice in July and La Martinère followed suit in August at the same time as abandoning its lawsuit against the company, which is now in appeal. On 18th December 2008, the court awarded La Martinère €300,000 in damages, and €10,000 for each day that the contested titles remained in Google’s database.
The French publishers association (Syndicat National de l’Edition, SNE) and the French authors society (Société des Gens de Lettres, SDGL) joined La Martinière in its case, and have not yet said whether they will also drop charges. If they don’t, their part of the appeal will stand.
Google halted discussions with the SNE in May after the three said they would take it to court. But the publishers’ position has become difficult to maintain, especially as Gallimard c.e.o Antoine Gallimard is also SNE president, Livres Hebdo noted.