Google strikes deal to scan French books

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Internet giant Google struck an agreement with France's biggest publisher Hachette Livre to scan around a million out-of-print French books for Google's online library, the companies said on Wednesday.

Google's world book-scanning project has met resistance in France and other countries from critics who warn it undermines authors and book sellers and have accused Google of trying to grab cultural heritage.

But the two companies said in a statement they had settled previous disagreements and "signed a memorandum of understanding that defines the terms for Google to scan Hachette Livre's French language books."

Hachette Livre chief executive Arnaud Nourry said the deal "enables us to break the deadlock in an honourable and positive way, while protecting the interests of all parties involved."

Nourry was not immediately able to cite examples of titles likely to be scanned but told an audio conference that "any major authors of French cultural heritage out of print will have that chance" to be digitised and made available online.

He estimated the number of books involved at about a million.

Wednesday's agreement gives Hachette control over which books it allows Google to scan. The works will then be sold in electronic format or printed on demand.

The companies said the deal would benefit authors and readers, and booksellers would profit from print-on-demand sales.

Hachette will share copies of the scanned books with France's National Library and other public bodies.

Google has already signed deals to scan national library holdings in Italy, the Netherlands and Austria. Its book-scanning operations have met strong legal challenges in the United States.

© 2010 AFP

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