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French publishing group La Martiniere is suing Google for piracy because of its Google Books project - which is scanning thousands of books into a database so users can search the text of books.

La Martiniere, which owns publishers in France, Switzerland and the US, is taking action against Google France and Google.com.

Google says publishers can just ask to have their books withdrawn from the project without going to court.

A Google spokesman said: "We disagree with their case, which we will contest in court. Google Book Search helps users find and buy books - not read or download them for free. It is directly beneficial to authors and their publishers because it enables them to reach a wider global audience, while protecting their copyrights."

"If publishers do not wish their books to be part of our project all they have to do is tell us and we exclude them and exclude their works. There is no need for any court case."

More from the Beeb here.

Google Books, which started as Google Print, was set up to provide a searchable database of as many of the world's books as possible. Google is also running Google Books Library which aims to scan in content from several major academic libraries.

The search giant insists it will not offer whole books for download and that customers will still have to buy actual books. But several publishers are getting cold feet about the project - the Association of American University Presses is still not happy with the details.

The Authors Guild of America is also taking legal action. ®

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