For the half-year to 31 December 2014, the IPKat's regular team is supplemented by contributions from guest bloggers Rebecca Gulbul, Lucas Michels and Marie-Andrée Weiss.

Regular round-ups of the previous week's blogposts are kindly compiled by Alberto Bellan.

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Google News: French and Belgian models to remain isolated examples?


As IPKat readers will remember, following a similar outcome in Belgium, a few weeks ago Google concluded an agreement with French Government which put an end to a 4-month long dispute over Google News.

Building on previous commitments to increase Google investment in France, the agreement provides that Google will create a EUR60m (approx £52m) "Digital Publishing Innovation Fund to support transformative French digital publishing initiatives", and deepen its partnership with French publishers to help increase their online revenue using Google advertising technology at a reduced cost. 

Although there were declarations by French President François Hollande and Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt saying how pleased both they were with the outcome finally achieved, it now seems that - overall - this was not a truly "happily every after" conclusion (also because of this).

Wished this was the end of the story?
In fact, shortly after the conclusion of the deal, Google made it clear that at the moment there is no intention to replicate initiatives like the creation of the French fund support model elsewhere in Europe.

A few days ago, also the European Publishers Council (EPC) released a statement which criticised the deal concluded between Google and France. Underlining the need for a copyright-aware internet, EPC’s Executive Director Angela Mills Wade said that “The type of deal arranged between Google and a group of French publishers does not address the continuing problem of unauthorised reuse and monetisation of content, and so does not provide the online press with the financial certainty or mechanisms for legal redress which it needs to build sustainable business models and ensure its continued investment in high-quality content.”

... Alas! We are not there yet ...
EPC's argues that what is needed is longer term solutions based on the law, rather than these types of arrangements. This is why "the EPC is supporting its members in Germany and elsewhere who are holding fast and demanding laws in their countries that would allow publishers to charge aggregators and search engines for reproducing publishers’ content. The proposed German law, currently in draft form, would apply to any aggregator, not just Google, and would provide a legal basis to prohibit unauthorised use of publishers’ content.

Google is opposing the proposed German law, claiming that not only it would damage German economy, threaten the diversity of information, result in massive legal uncertainty, set back innovative media and copyright, but also break the founding principle of the Web, ie its hyperlink-based architecture [in case you have missed it, see the recent Opinion of the European Copyright Society on the pending reference before the Court of Justice of the European Union in Case C-466/12 Svensson].

In the meanwhile, FIEG (the Italian Federation of Newspaper Publishers) has highlighted the need for the forthcoming Italian Government [elections will be held on 24-25 February] to address issues pertaining to online copyright protection. Following last year's unsuccessful attempts of the Italian Communication Authority (AGCOM) to adopt a specific regulation on online copyright (here), FIEG has stressed that, while publishers have been adopting innovative models to remain competitive, there have been no actual political initiatives in Italy to protect content producers and safeguard all the economic, political and technical resources which are indispensable to produce quality contents.

So it would seem that, overall, the Google News saga is still far from its conclusion …

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The confidence with which Google is negotiating with different European governments shows that it knows how powerful its (effective) monopoly position is. However Europe is a different beast from the US, and ultimately the European Commission can wade in whenever it needs to, and it's never afraid to suggest new ways of regulating things. China's solution in similar circumstances is to provide home-grown equivalents, and perhaps one day Europe will also learn that trick when US companies start to become a little too aggressive.

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