Three French publishers have dropped lawsuits against Google alleging that the company infringed their copyright.
It's the latest sign that Google's relationship with the French book industry is on the mend after it upset publishers there by scanning their books without permission for its Google Books collection.
"It's excellent news," Philippe Colombet, director of Google Books France, said on Thursday after hearing that publishers Gallimard, Flammarion and Albin Michel had failed to renew their claims against Google in a French court earlier in the week.
"We have always said we were willing to hold a constructive dialog with publishers from around the world, to preserve and distribute the world's cultural heritage, and to identify new commercial opportunities for authors and publishers," Colombet said.
The three publishers did not respond to requests for comment.
Last month another French publisher, La Martini
Working with Google, La Martini
The two companies did not mention whether they would consider selling paper versions of these old books through Google's on-demand printing service.
Putting out-of-print books back on sale via on-demand printing may seem like a good deal for authors, whose books then remain perpetually available. However, it's a touchy subject in France: if a publisher lets a book go out of print there, then the author can take back publishing rights to it in the hope of getting a better publicity, royalty or distribution deal from a new publisher. On-demand printing could allow publishers to hang on to existing publishing rights without having to commit funds to marketing or distributing the book.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.