For the half-year to 30 June 2014, the IPKat's regular team is supplemented by contributions from guest bloggers Alberto Bellan, Darren Meale and Nadia Zegze.

Two of our regular Kats are currently on blogging sabbaticals. They are David Brophy and Catherine Lee.

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Google and Belgian newspaper publishers reach an agreement over Google News

From L to R: Thierry Geerts (Google Belgium);
Frans Wauter (authors' associations);
Francois leHodey (Belgian French language news publishers) 
Google News probably represents one of the most interesting copyright-related series of cases of the decade. 

While some European countries - notably Germany (here) and France (here and here) - are thinking of asking (well, sort of ... Merpel reckons that the question is not asked in "would you mind"-like terms) Google to pay for displaying links to and snippets of newspaper articles, and in other countries (eg Brazil) members of national newspaper associations have opted out of the Google News service, a few days ago news reached the IPKat that an agreement has been achieved in Belgium.

Indeed, earlier this month, Google and Belgian French-language newspaper publishers concluded a settlement, thus putting an end to a six year-long running litigation concerning whether Google infringed publishers' copyright by displaying snippets of and links to cached copies of their pages. There was even a moment when the Belgian newspapers were excluded completely from Google News service. 

What are the contents of this agreement? As reported on the Google Europe Blog, from now on Google and Belgian French-language publishers will partner on a broad range of business initiatives, in order to:
  • Promote both the publishers’ and Google’s services - Google will advertise its services on the publishers’ media, while the publishers will optimise their use of Google’s advertising solutions, in particular AdWords [but also YouTube: see further below] to attract new readers.
  • Increase publishers’ revenue [but also Google's, as Mountain View-based internet giant will sell online ads for the newspapers in return for a cute of the sales] - by collaborating on making money with content, both via premium models (paywalls, subscriptions), and via advertising solutions such as the AdSense platform and the AdExchange marketplace;
  • Increase reader engagement - by implementing Google+ social tools, including video Hangouts, on news sites, and launching official YouTube channels;
  • Increase the accessibility of the publishers’ content - by collaborating on the distribution of the publishers original content on mobile platforms, in particular smartphones and tablets.
The agreement is opt-in. This means that Belgian newspapers can decide whether to re-join Google News.

As explained by the Wall Street Journal, financial details of the settlement were not disclosed. Although Google said that it is not paying the newspapers to appear on its News service, the Huffington Post (quoting from Le Monde) reported that Google has accepted to pay a sum comprised between 2-3% (around EUR 5m) of the total turnover of Belgian French-language newspapers.

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