It seems you can’t blink these days without someone launching a lawsuit against someone in the digital world.
In fact, it’s rather difficult to keep up with who’s suing who. Whilst some are a little spurious and opportunistic, such as when iLor LLC filed a lawsuit against Google back in 2007 on the same day the patent was issued, others aren’t entirely without merit.
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And the latest companies to jump on the ‘let’s sue Google’ bandwagon are three French publishers, who claim that Google scanned thousands of their books without consent.
The three publishers in question – Gallimard, Flammarion and Albin Michel – filed their suit in a Parisian court and they are collectively seeking a whopping €9.8m for ten thousand books they claim were made available online. That’s a lot of books…and a sizeable ransom if Google is forced to cough up.
The Google Books Library Project is an attempt by the Internet giant to make the collections of a number of major research libraries searchable online. If a book is under copyright, then the scan is typically limited to bibliographic information and some snippets from the book. If it’s out of copyright, then the full book is made available.
Google responded by saying:
“We were surprised to receive this new claim…we remain convinced of the legality of Google Books and its compliance with French laws and international copyright,” it said in a statement.”
This triple whammy follows a similar case from two years ago, when La Martiniere – another French publisher – sued Google for the exact same reason, and it was successful in its claim.
If we’re talking about precedent, then it seems Google may have a genuine case to contend with here given La Martiniere’s triumph in 2009. Though I doubt the €10m or so claimed will be awarded, that’s pretty wishful thinking. La Martiniere walked away with €300k, after seeking around €15m in damages, but it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that Google could be looking at paying in the hundreds of thousands or early millions in this case. And it will likely be settled out of court if Google senses it has a genuine case.