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French writers say OUI! to Google's book-slurp deal

Beret-wearers will sell wafflings via web giant

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Google has come to an arrangement with French authors and publishers, who sued for copyright infringement after the web giant began scanning and indexing their books. The deal clears the way for the search goliath to resume digitising tomes for the first time since 2006.

The French Publishers' Association (Syndicat national de l’édition) and the French authors' association (Société des gens de lettres) agreed to drop their lawsuits when the web giant offered to sell the publishers' ebooks.

Google said on its blog that the framework agreement was a “win-win solution” for everyone.

“Publishers and authors retain control over the commercial use of their books – while at the same time, opening the possibility for out-of-print books to reach a wide audience,” Google said. “We remain hopeful of reaching a solution in the US allowing us to make the world's books searchable and discoverable online.”

The sprawling internet colossus has also been at loggerheads with US publishers over its ostensibly altruistic attempt to bring back out-of-print books. Google did manage to strike a deal there as well, but a US judge rejected the settlement because it would give the firm “a de facto monopoly over unclaimed works”.

The French Authors' Association said that its deal with Google gave writers new opportunities to distribute their works while also defending their copyright.

Google’s Director of Books in France, Philippe Colombet, said the arrangement would allow everyone to move forward constructively.

"At a time when the electronic book market takes off, it is essential content in French is also easily accessible to most," he said in a canned statement.

The web firm said in its blog that France was now a “pioneer” in the digital world and it’s hoping for “more progress on putting the written word online”. ®

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