According to a post on Google’s European Public Policy Blog, the company is forging groundbreaking partnerships with French publishers that it believes “will put France ahead of the rest of the world in bringing long lost out-of-print works back to life.” The agreements, Google claimed, will put an end to roughly six years of legal disputes with several publishers and authors in the country. The deals will also allow Google to continue ahead in its goal to bring the almost 75 percent of books that are currently out of print and unavailable to most. The result is publishers working with Google to “promote and commercialize” scanned copies of out-of-print works:
Until now, legal challenges, not only in France, but also in the United States, have kept us from realizing our dream. French authors and publishers sued us, separately, for copyright violations back in 2006. U.S. authors and publishers also sued. Although we reached an agreement with the American Author’s Guild and Association of American Publishers in 2008, a U.S. District court in New York last year rejected the agreement… In France, however, we have found a way to move ahead. Both the French Publishers Association (Syndicat national de l’édition) and the French Author’s Association (Société des gens de lettres) have withdrawn their suits. From now, publishers will promote and commercialize electronic versions of their out-of-print books scanned by Google.
Google also noted in the post that it would sponsor the French publishers’ Young Reading Champions Program as part of the agreements and hope to reach similar deals with publishers in the United States and elsewhere.
These agreements share no direct tie to a new French law establishing a system of collective rights management for out-of-print books. The partnerships announced with French publishers and authors were possible before the law was enacted. At the same time, the legislation’s system of licensing through a collecting society demonstrates how France is speeding ahead to put out of print books back into circulation.