How do you say “opt-in” in French? According to statements, Google and the French publishers association (Le Syndicat National de l’Edition) and a French authors group (Le Société des Gens de Lettres) have agreed to a “framework” settlement that will allow Google to scan and sell copyrighted but out-of-print French books. The catch? Publishers and authors will maintain control over what will be made available.
The news comes as Google prepares to file a motion for summary judgment as early as this week in its lawsuit with the Authors Guild in the U.S. in which it claims its sweeping book scanning program is protected by fair use. While the details of the proposed French scanning and revenue-sharing plan were not disclosed, Google reportedly will sell French e-books in its Google Play store, when it launches in France, and the deal will allow French copyright holders to choose which books will be included in the program. Philippe Colombet, director of Google Books France, said Google hoped to use the settlement as a framework for deals in other countries—though most likely not in the U.S.
Although federal judge Denny Chin urged the parties in the U.S. litigation to come up with an “opt-in” arrangement following the failure of its original settlement, the parties have been unable to agree on the scope of such a deal. Not so in France, where the e-book market is very small, and where Google faced significant legal and government headwinds. In 2009, a French court judge sided with publisher La Martinière, finding that Google had violated French copyright law.