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Google reaches book-scanning detente in France

France has become the first country in which Google has reached an industry-wide deal to scan out-of-print works still under copyright.

According to The New York Times, Google has struck a deal with the French Publishers’ Association and the authors’ group Société des Gens de Lettres, putting a stop to lawsuits claiming that the Internet giant violated copyright by scanning out-of-print titles for inclusion in its database. From the Times:

The deal is modeled on agreements that Google struck separately with two leading French publishers, Hachette and La Martinière. Under all of these agreements, the publishers retain control over many conditions of the book-scanning project, including which titles are made available.

What we are saying is that this agreement respects our copyright law in France, said Christine de Mazières, managing director of the French Publishers’ Association. That is very important.

The Times also quoted the head of Google France, Philippe Colombet, as saying that the agreement is “innovative” and that the company hopes to use it as a model in other jurisdictions.

One area of contention is the U.S., where an ongoing lawsuit remains unsettled:

In those talks, the court last year dismissed a $125 million settlement proposal, under which any book that had been scanned would automatically be included in Google’s database unless the rights holder specifically opted out.

The parties to the U.S. talks have been unable to reach a new agreement. This month, a judge granted authors class-action status in the dispute.