Google Battles French, Italians In Court, Loses Copyright Case

Google will probably be fighting legal battles in European courts and appearing before EU regulators for some time to come. For the time being Google has lost (at least for now) a copyright case in France arising from book scanning. According to Reuters:

The court found against Google after the La Martiniere group, which controls the highbrow Editions du Seuil publishing house, argued that publishers and authors were losing out in the latest stage of the digital revolution.

La Martiniere, the French Publishers’ Association and authors’ groups SGDL argued that scanning books was an act of reproduction that should be paid for, and demanded the U.S. company be fined 15 million euros ($21.59 million).

Google has reportedly scanned roughly 100,000 French books according to Associated Press reports. The court has ordered the equivalent of a $14,000 per day fine until Google purges the works from its database. I don’t know (and the articles make no mention) of whether Google can or will appeal. I suspect if the company can it will.

Meanwhile, to the southeast, Google Executives’ trial in absentia over alleged privacy violations involving YouTube in Italy continues. The NY Times reports:

Prosecutors contend that Google was negligent because it allowed a video of high school students bullying an autistic classmate to stay on its Italian-language video service for two months in 2006. The company, which is based in Mountain View, California, says it removed the video several hours after being alerted about its existence.

We discussed the case previously. It involves potential jail time for the four Google executives, which include David Drummond, Google’s SVP of  Corporate Development, and former Google CFO George Reyes. It’s quite possible that Google will lose this case as well.

While both of these cases involve alleged violations of French or Italian law the not-so-subtext is the Continent upholding the rights of the individual vs. the American invader that allegedly wants to erode or destroy them and European cultural traditions in the process. The legal cases and political (and perhaps legislative) objections to Google will continue.

This is now just the cost of doing business for Google.

Related Topics: Channel: Industry | Google: Critics | Google: Legal | Google: Outside US

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About The Author: is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes a personal blog Screenwerk, about SoLoMo issues and connecting the dots between online and offline. He also posts at Internet2Go, which is focused on the mobile Internet. Follow him @gsterling.

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  • ClarrieM

    “While both of these cases involve alleged violations of French or Italian law the not-so-subtext is the Continent upholding the rights of the individual vs. the American invader that allegedly wants to erode or destroy them and European cultural traditions in the process. The legal cases and political (and perhaps legislative) objections to Google will continue.”

    Well said, with all the disdain for “Johnny Foreigner” that we Brits used to exemplify 100 years ago when we had an empire…

    The problem facing all global corporations, and particularly those with internet based based businesses, is that they have to recognise that cultures and laws in other countries in which they operate can vary from those of their own, and they have to observe these differences in their operations, something which can be difficult given the intrinsically global nature of the beast.

    The laws created by a country generally reflect a social or cultural need based in the particular character of that country – in France and Italy they have strict privacy laws, that are contrary to the more open “anything goes” US approach.

    It’s not a case of “the Continent upholding the rights of the individual vs. the American invader” but a question of whether Google ignored its social, cultural, and legal obligations in how it conducted itself in these two countries, which have specific laws in place to protect the rights of individuals to privacy.

  • keonda

    Google has just decided to appeal. Can’t find the AFP source, but here’s one of the many french media mentions about it.

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