French filmmaker sues Google over film downloads

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PARIS -- Jean-Francois Lepetit, producer of "Le Monde Selon Bush" (The World According to Bush) has taken legal action against Google France and Google Inc. for distributing the film free of charge, citing "copyright infringement and parasitism," Lepetit's French production company Flach Film announced Thursday.

Lepetit granted Editions Montparnasse distribution rights to William Karel's documentary in video and VOD formats, but Google Video France currently allows free access to the feature-length film simply by clicking and downloading.

The film, a controversial close-up of George W. Bush's presidency, has already received over 43,000 hits in "a very short period," Google's sources claim. Lepetit has appealed to the Paris Commercial Court, accusing Google of violating the Intellectual Property Code pertaining to copyright and annex rights, and is seeking compensation for the offense.

Flach Film maintains that Google "has not acted as a simple host but as a fully responsible publisher."

"The legal Internet broadcast of films cannot be developed as long as sites such as Google offer such downloads free of charge," said Lepetit. "I have nothing against Google," he added, "I simply want them to stop this type of practice."

According to Google France, the file was removed immediately after Lepetit alerted the company, but Lepetit will follow the case to court.

"You don't need to sue us in order for content to be removed," said a spokesperson from Google France. "Just notify us. Feel free to tell us and we'll immediately remove the file.

"We take copyright issues very seriously at Google. We have to control copyright all the time," the spokesperson added.
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