Google and France settle over News

While this Kat was enjoying a well-deserved dinner with the new friends she made at the launch of new copyright and business model centre CREATe in Glasgow, charming French-accented ARCEP commissioner Pierre-Jean Benghozi broke the news that Google and the French government had finally reached an agreement which put an end to a 4-month long dispute over Google News.

As IPKat readers will remember, following a similar initiative in Germany (here and here), in September last leading French newspaper publishers had called on François Hollande's government to adopt a law to force internet search engines like Google to pay for displaying their content on services such as Google News.

At the beginning Google's arguments did not
appeal particularly to French publishers ...
Google was not particularly pleased with this initiative, and thought of sending a dramatic letter to several French ministerial offices, in which it threatened to exclude French media sites from search results if France had gone ahead with plans to set up what had already become known as the 'Google Tax' (here).

This move did not seem to worry French Government too much, as in November 2012 Minister of Culture Aurèlie Filippetti said that the Government would have indeed adopted a law requiring Google to pay royalties on the contents displayed on its News service if this and the publishers had not achieved an agreement before the end of that year.

... But then things changed ...
Apparently, an agreement has been indeed achieved yesterday, thus following a similar settlement that Google concluded with Belgian newspaper publishers a few weeks ago (here).

In any case, yesterday's agreement does not mean that Google will have to pay for snippets of news content that appear on its search pages, clarifies France 24.

The terms provide in fact that Google will create a EUR 60m (approx £ 52m) "Digital Publishing Innovation Fund to support transformative French digital publishing initiatives" [Merpel wonders whether perhaps too many beautiful words have been employed here to express a concept which is certainly less sophisticated but perhaps more comprehensible: settlement compensation?].

... So, all's well what
ends well, muses
cynicism-free Merpel
In addition, as explained by Google Executive Chairman Eric Schimdt on the company's official blog, Google will deepen its partnership with French publishers to help increase their online revenue using Google advertising technology at a reduced cost. Although it is still unclear how revenues will be split, it is expected that most of them will go to French publishers.

The agreement builds on previous commitments to increase Google investment in France, including Paris-based Google Cultural Institute, which opened in 2011 and is intended to help preserve cultural treasures such as the Dead Sea Scrolls.

While debates over Google News and similar services are far from settled in Germany and Italy, it remains to be seen whether the French agreement could serve as a model also there. In the meanwhile, Hollande cheerfully tweeted that "France is proud to have reached this agreement with Google, the first of its kind in the world", reports BBC.
Google and France settle over News Google and France settle over News Reviewed by Eleonora Rosati on Saturday, February 02, 2013 Rating: 5


  1. It would appear that a good way of preserving the Dead Sea scrolls is to put them in porous ceramic jars and to store them in dry caves in the arid Qumran region. It worked well for a couple of thousand years...

  2. It's nice that the dispute has been settled, but it's a bit of a sui generis settlement, presumably applying to Google only and not other search providers. What does this mean for smaller players who may want to enter the same niche in the future, who presumably now have the additional hurdle of a cosy agreement between Google and the French government? I won't say this is anti-competitive, but I hope that in due course other players will be given similar rights.

  3. Is this settlement going to be a model for the latest EU "Licences for Europe" initiative?


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