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Google, French publishers reach payment deal

January 21, 2021

The US tech giant and a group of French newspapers said their agreement calls for payments made for showing content through online searches. The first-in-Euorpe pact follows several months of negotiations.

Google office in London
News outlets have consistently opposed Google's failure to offer compensationImage: Hannah McKay/REUTERS

In a European first, Google and a group of French newspapers said Thursday they had signed an agreement to pave the way to the online giant offering them digital copyright payments.

Google has only signed individual agreements with a few publications so far, including national dailies Le Monde and Le Figaro

The agreement, signed with French publishers' lobby  Alliance de la Presse d'Information Générale (APIG), involves "neighboring rights," which call for payment for showing news content through internet searches, according to a joint statement.

EU to revolutionize how Big Tech works

Google to work out individual agreements

The pact establishes a framework for Google to negotiate individual license agreements with newspapers on the payments. It will also give papers access to its new News Showcase Program, which sees it pay publishers for enriched content. 

The payments will be based on criteria such as the daily volume of publications, monthly internet traffic and "contribution to political and general information." 

Google and APIG did not state how much money could be distributed under the agreement, and details on exactly how the payments will be calculated were not disclosed. 

APIG head Pierre Louette said the deal amounts to the "effective recognition of neighboring rights for the press and the start of their remuneration by digital platforms for the use of their publications online." 

Product of months of talks

The move follows months of negotiations between Google, French publishers and news agencies over how to apply updated EU copyright rules, which allow publishers to demand a fee from online platforms showing excerpts of their news. 

A Paris appeals court ruled in October that Google had to continue to negotiate with French news publishers over a new European law on copyrights. 

News outlets have consistently opposed Google's failure to offer them compensation for the millions it makes from ads displayed alongside news search results. France was the first country in the EU to enact the new law, but Google initially refused to comply, saying that publishers already benefit by receiving millions of visits to their websites. 

lc/sms (AFP, Reuters)