News is breaking today that Google have signed a settlement agreement with La Martiniere, a French publisher. The exact terms haven;t been disclosed, but La Martiniere will allow Google to convert and sell ebooks on their behalf.
The agreement ends a long-running legal dispute between La Martiniere and Google over Google scanning books published by La Martiniere. La Martiniere sued in French court in 200, and Google was ordered in 2009 to pay the French publisher 300 thousand euros and stop scanning French works for its digital library project.
The interesting part is that it looks like Google got La Martiniere to agree to the standard publisher contract. Aside from that 2009 award, it appears that Google didn’t offer anything other than it gave everyone else. Unless there’s some detail not mentioned, what we have here isn’t a publisher winning out over Google. What really happened is that Google dragged another publisher into the 21st century against their will.
There’s something to be said for asking permission after the fact. Google seem to make it work. (Aside from the 300k euros, that is.)