Google in the goo
ABOVE THE reception desk at Google's California headquarters, apparently, is the motto "don't be evil". For years the corporation's hugely useful search service gained it massive goodwill and at least acquiescence with that slogan.
How things change.
As Google has moved into more and more of the digital world - from buying YouTube to, particularly, the books.google.com project to scan libraries and put them online - worries have grown.
The Google Books project resulted in it being sued by publishers and by the Authors Guild in the US, which in turn resulted in the proposed Google Books Settlement.
In France, a similar case brought by publishers, claiming €18 million for unauthorised copying of books, went to court. On 18 December the Paris Civil Court granted them €300,000 in damages, reports Bloomberg News.
Intriguingly, le Monde reports that at the end of last year Chinese novelist Mian Mian is suing Google for €6000 for scanning and making available her book Acid Lovers. At the end of December a court - where Mian Mian was not represented - sent the parties away to negotiate.
So the corporation's well-publicised threat to pull out of China on freedom of expression grounds was preceded by the beginnings of a copyright conflict there. On 13 January, the same day that it noisily announced its human rights concerns, it terminated those negotiations. Doubly ironically, paper publication of Mian Mian's three novels is, according to le Monde, forbidden in China.