Since Google Art Project launched, art lovers have been asking why the world's most famous painting -- Leonardo Da Vinci's "Mona Lisa" -- isn't included on the site that features digitized images of works from select museum collections around the world.
The simple answer is that the "Mona Lisa" and some other works from the Louvre Museum in Paris are already available online, but on a different art site, one that's organized by a French cultural body known as the Centre de Recherche et de Restauration des Musées de France (the Center for Research and Restoration of Museums of France).
When it comes to protecting their culture from American hegemony, especially of the Google variety, the French have preferred to do it their way. In 2009, a court ruled that the Google Book Project could no longer scan copyrighted books in France, saying that the company was violating the law.
The Google Art Project seems to have realized some success in France, having signed on the Musée d'Orsay. The Internet company apparently has learned from its past mistakes and is seeking partnerships with art institutions in what can be seen as an attempt to avoid legal conflicts.