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Google Plans Research Center in France

Google plans to make France the center for all its European cultural operations, and to open a new research center there, CEO Eric Schmidt told French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Thursday.

Schmidt was passing through on his way home after delivering the keynote speech at the IFA consumer electronics show in Berlin on Tuesday, in which he revealed plans for GoogleTV.

The planned research center in France will allow Google to scoop up some of the country's best engineering talent -- and also to benefit from significant tax credits intended to favor research spending. The company will also increase its funding of research in French universities and offer training for French software developers in the use of its tools, Schmidt said.

The other element of Google's investment plan is the creation of a European Cultural Institute in France, which will house all the company's cultural projects in Europe.

The creation of the institute is an attempt to win over French intellectuals who are concerned about Google's increasing influence on and control over "culture".

French concerns focus on Google Book Search, the company's plan to digitize the world's literature, which has been fiercely opposed by many French publishers and by the former head of the French national library, Jean-Noël Jeanneney.

Schmidt isn't the first Google executive to pay a visit to Sarkozy. Larry Page dropped by in May, offering to increase the company's investment in France, according to the French president's Web site.

Peter Sayer covers open source software, European intellectual property legislation and general technology breaking news for IDG News Service. Send comments and news tips to Peter at peter_sayer@idg.com.

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