The Speaker
Sunday, 21 July 2024 – 08:20

Google must pay for re-using content of French publishers, say Autorité de la Concurrence

France’s competition authority ruled on Thursday that Google must pay French publishing companies and news agencies for re-using their content.

French competition authority, the Autorité de la Concurrence said in a statement, 

“Google’s practices caused a serious and immediate harm to the press sector, while the economic situation of publishers and news agencies is otherwise fragile,”

Google displays news and content from a variety of publishers and news agencies in its search engine and news aggregation service, however, publishers are not usually compensated for this use. Under new European Union copyright reform passed last year, copyright was extended to the summary or open line of news stories, which aggregators such as Google display. The directive was voted through the EU Parliament in March 2019 and France was the first member state to enact it into national law, with it coming into effect in October.

The ruling on Thursday makes France set to become the first country where publishers have succeeded in getting payment from Google for the use of their content. Other EU member states including Germany and Spain have passed similar laws, but without successfully securing payments for publishers from Google. In Spain, Google decided to remove its Google News service entirely, while in Germany, some publishers decided to allow the US tech giant to use their content for free due to a fall in web traffic.

Last year, Google stopped showing news snippets from European publishers on search results for its French users, however, some publishers and news agencies lodged a complaint before the Autorité de la Concurrence, claiming that Google’s behaviour was an abuse of its powerful position as a search engine.

Richard Gingras, vice president of News at Google said in a statement;

“Since the European copyright law came into force in France last year, we have been engaging with publishers to increase our support and investment in news”

He added that Google “will comply with the order while we review it and continue those negotiations”. Under the order, the tech giant must negotiate “in good faith” with French publishers and news agencies over licensing fees it should pay for press content. Negotiations should be completed in three months and result in a ‘remuneration’ scheme for publishers and agencies, the French authority said on Thursday.

Thursday’s ruling follows a long battle between publishers and the search engine giant, and one that has become increasingly political. Last year, French President Emmanuel Macron said “Some actors, such as Google, wish to free themselves from those [copyright] rules. We won’t let them.”

The ruling should see new streams of revenue for news agencies and publishers, who often struggle financially due to falling advertising revenues.


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