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Google reaches deal with French book publishers over out-of-print eBooks

The ongoing battle between Google and French book publishers came to an end yesterday, when the search engine giant announced an agreement that will return out-of-print stories to the reading public.

"We are forging partnerships that we believe will put France ahead of the rest of the world in bringing out-of-print works back to life," Philippe Colombet, strategic partner development manager of Google Books France, wrote in a blog post.

Almost 75 per cent of the world's books are out of print and largely unavailable, Colombet said. In order to make that cache available to anyone in the world, Google is digitising millions of out-of-print works. But the company hit some snags six years ago, when French authors and publishers sued Google for copyright violations.

The French Publishers Association and the French Author's Association have since withdrawn their suits, Colombet said Monday, calling it a "win-win solution" that allows publishers and authors to retain control over the commercial use of their books, while opening the possibility of out-of-print books to reach a wide audience.

The hope of the new partnership, Colombet said, is that it will boost the emerging French electronic book market.

In a continuation of its new French agreement, Google will sponsor publishers' new Young Reading Champions Program and are supporting the Publishing Laboratory, which helps startups and traditional partners test digital technologies.

Last month, Google's YouTube scored a legal victory when a French court rejected claims from the country's largest television broadcaster that the video-sharing site violated its copyright.

Earlier this month, a California district judge ruled that a lawsuit against Google over its book digitisation effort can be designated as a class action.