Six-year Google Books spat ends with publisher agreement

Books Google wants to digitise all of the world's books

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Google has reached a deal with a publishing group to allow the scanning and publishing of books online - ending a six-year legal battle.

A court ruled in 2009 that the search company was in breach of copyright infringement after it digitised a number of French books.

But now an agreement has been made to allow publishers to opt in to being digitised by Google.

Publishers' group SNE said the deal respected the "rights of the author".

"This announcement marks a positive advance for updating France's print heritage under copyright and contributes to expanding the availability of digital books," it said in a statement.

A Paris court had ordered Google to pay 300,000 euros (£240,000) to three French publishers.

Google had appealed against the decision - but has now struck a deal.

"The authors will be able to say yes or no to the indexing of their works," SNE president Antoine Gallimard said.

"It is now up to each publishing house to decide if it wants to sign a framework accord with Google on authorship rights or not."

'French culture'

The SGDL, which represents French authors, said the agreement would protect their rights on the internet.

As part of the deal, Google will give money to a scheme helping primary school children learn to read.

Google Books France director Philippe Colombet said: "All conditions are now in place for Google to participate in developing digital books in France and contribute to spreading French culture."

The legal battle was just one of the tussles Google has faced over its books project.

The company has said it wants to digitise every book in the world by the end of the decade. So far, it has managed 20 million.

Last year, a deal between Google and US publishers to allow publication of books online was quashed by the US courts.

A judge said Google would gain a significant competitive advantage for "engaging in wholesale copying of copyrighted works without permission".

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