France to file objections to Google online-book deal

BRUSSELS, Sept 7 Mon Sep 7, 2009 8:39am EDT

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BRUSSELS, Sept 7 (Reuters) - The French government plans to file its objections to Google Inc's (GOOG.O) plan to digitize millions of books in a New York court this week, a French Culture Ministry official said on Monday. "France will send its observations to the U.S. court today or tomorrow," Nicolas Georges, director for books and libraries at the French Culture Ministry, told Reuters on the sidelines of a European Commission hearing on Google's deal with U.S. authors and publisher groups struck earlier this year.

France is concerned about European authors' rights, Georges said.

"There are lots of European works in Google's database. Google can digitalise these works without the permission of European authors," he said.

He cited worries over the copyrights of orphan works, which are books or other materials that are still covered by U.S. copyright law, but it is not clear who owns the rights to them.

"Google will have a monopoly digitalising European orphan works without permission," Georges said.

He said there were also issues of which works would be recorded.

"Google has the power to determine which work will be in its database or not. For example, some works that are not commercial may be removed by Google," he said.

Germany last week filed its arguments with the Manhattan federal court, which will hold a hearing to approve the settlement on Oct. 7.

Germany is opposing the deal, saying that it would violate German copyright law and the country's privacy protections for Internet users.

Google defended the book deal on Monday at the Commission hearing, saying it stemmed in part from the group's ambition to allow Web surfers to find out-of-print books. [ID:nL7562968] (Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; editing by Karen Foster)

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