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French Courts Rule Against Google Books

The decision favors the La Martiniere group and fines Google €300,00. The primary complaint of La Martiniere is that the scanning of copyrighted works should be compenstated since Google makes money from those scanned works by selling advertising. The New York Times explains

As electronic readers gain popularity and online libraries expand, companies and governments are keen to learn from the mistakes that the film and music businesses made when their content moved online.

I fear that the lesson publishers think they are learning is how to keep their content locked up rather than how to make digital versions of their content available to their customers.

Customers want digital versions and would likely pay for the privilege. Book publishers have a natural barrier between their products and digital distribution in that the market has not yet developed a widely-accepted digital standard for books. Ebooks of all types are still niche products whereas the Compact Disc format developed by Philips and the DVD format developed by Toshiba became standards overnight.

Google offers a bridge to such a digital standard but like the music and movie publishers before them, book publishers seem to want to stop the distribution of digital versions of their works. Book publishers don’t seem to care if Google exposure increases customer awareness of their products and drives non-digital book sales. They seem only interested in preserving things as they were before 1998. This decision in France shows the failure of (French) book publishers to even recognize, let alone grasp, the opportunities presented by digital distribution.


This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on December 18, 2009 7:34 AM.

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