Google Books may steal the very thing that makes the French French


President Sarkozy is mad as hell and isn’t going to take it anymore. His beef? Moteur de recherche Google is stealing his precious cultural heritage by scanning in books. Another point? France is trying their own hand at book scanning and is planning on investing billions of Euros into the effort. Google coming along and doing it for essentially free may be the cause of his chagrin.

His comment?

“We won’t let ourselves be stripped of our heritage to the benefit of a big company, no matter how friendly, big or American it is”

Big? American? Those are fighting words, Sarko.

Look: Google may not have our best interests at heart but the sheer fact that they want to scan in all those books is a mitzvah. If Google planned to sell the data maybe there would be an issue. But these are French books that few outside of France may ever see. To expand the French language in this way is an excellent way to expand cultural hegemony.

Reuters also notes that France and Germany tried to make a search engine called Quaero a few years ago. It failed.