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Google guilty in French e-book case

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Steve Chiotakis: France isn’t saying “Je t’aime” to Google. A Paris court’s found the search behemoth guilty of copyright infringement. The case involved Google’s efforts to put books online. We’re gonna get the latest from Marketplace’s Jeremy Hobson, he’s with us live from New York this morning. Good morning Jeremy.

Jeremy Hobson: Bonjour, Steve.

Chiotakis: Bonjour! First tell us a little bit about this case.

strong class=”name”>Hobson: Well google was sued by a French publishers association. And the association charged that Google was taking books, scanning them into digital form and then putting them up online and allowing users to browse through either the entire books or snippets of them. And then, like everything else Google does, making money from advertisers but not compensating the authors or the publishers of the books.

Chiotakis: So what’s the punishment from the French court then?

Hobson: Well it doesn’t sound like a lot for a behemoth like Google, but it’s a $430,000 fine, and about $14,000 every day that Google doesn’t take down the digitized versions of French books. But I spok ewith copyright expert Lawrence Lessig at Harvard Law School. He says he thinks the French court is moving backwards here, that this will keep, yes, the big-name authors off of Google, but also the 75 percent of books for which he says it’s difficult to even identify who holds the copyright.

Lawrence Lessig: If you focus exclusively upon the John Grishams of the world, then you will obliterate the vast majority of our cultural past. And the problem with the French decision is it’s going to turn the digital libraries of the future into digital bookstores, and that I think will be an enormous loss to culture.

Now Google, Steve, Google says it plans to appeal the French decision, so this is not the end of the story.

Chiotakis: All right, Marketplace’s Jermey Hobson in New York. Jeremy, thanks.

Hobson: Thank you.

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