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 user 2005-02-25 at 9:10:00 am Views: 97
  • #10529

    Google book plan sparks French war of words

    PARIS – France’s
    national library has raised a “warcry” over plans by Google to put books from
    some of the world’s great libraries on the Internet and wants to ensure the
    project does not lead a domination of American ideas.

    Jeanneney, who heads France’s national library and is a noted historian, says
    Google’s choice of works is likely to favour Anglo-Saxon ideas and the English

    He wants the
    European Union to balance this with its own programme and its own Internet
    search engines.

    “It is not a
    question of despising Anglo-Saxon views … It is just that in the simple act of
    making a choice, you impose a certain view of things,” Jeanneney told Reuters in
    a telephone interview on Friday.

    “I favour a
    multi-polar view of the world in the 21st century,” he said. “I don’t want the
    French Revolution retold just by books chosen by the United States. The picture
    presented may not be less good or less bad, but it will not be ours.”

    Jeanneney says he
    is not anti-American, and that he wants better relations between Europe and the
    United States. But like French President Jacques Chirac, he says he wants a
    multi-polar world in which U.S. views are not the only ones that are

    His views are
    making waves among intellectuals in France, where many people are wary of the
    impact of American ways and ideas on the French language and culture.

    But he says he has
    heard nothing from politicians in Paris or Brussels, days before U.S. President
    George Bush visits the European Union’s headquarters and NATO.

    “On the eve of
    George Bush’s arrival in Europe, the president of the National Library of France
    is sounding a warcry … he is seeking a French and European crusade,” Le Figaro
    newspaper said on Friday.

    Google Inc. said last December it would scan millions of books and periodicals
    into its popular search engine over the next few years.

    Its partners in the
    project are Harvard University, Stanford University, Oxford University, the
    University of Michigan and the New York Public Library.

    Google says the
    project will promote knowledge by making it more easily and more widely
    accessible. It aims to make money by attracting people to its Web site and to
    its advertisements.

    The impact this
    might have on attendance at world libraries is not yet clear. But Jeanneney
    expressed his concerns in an article published by Le Monde newspaper late last

    “Here we find a
    risk of crushing domination by America in defining the idea that future
    generations have of the world,” he wrote, urging the EU to act fast.

    He pushed his
    campaign forward this week by announcing the national library would make
    editions of 22 French periodicals and newspapers dating back to the 19th century
    available on the Internet.