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Google refuses to sign deals with French news providers

The agreements would have ensured news providers get remunerated, in compliance with the new European Directive on Copyright.

Background: The reform of copyright rules in Europe was finalised by the EU Parliament in March 2019. One of the key provisions of the new Directive is the introduction of a right for press publications to obtain compensation from online news services, such as Google News. The provision proved controversial, since similar efforts had been unsuccessful in Spain (where Google shut down Google News) and in Germany (where press publishers allowed Google to publish content for free, after a drop in online traffic).

France in the footsteps of Spain and Germany? France was the first country to transpose the Directive into national legislation, in July 2019. As a result, French publishers now have the right to negotiate with Google the compensation they can obtain. However, in a statement published this week, Google has already set out its intentions not to compensate publishers, arguing it is not a part of their business model to pay, or to be paid, for search results. As a consequence, with the entry into force of the French law, Google will stop showing previews of content coming from European publications, unless the publisher has explicitly requested so.

It may not be over yet: Google’s announcement was perhaps unsurprising, but it has been met with disappointment by French publishers and by the country’s Minister of Culture. Some press publishers have referred to Google’s behaviour as “abuse of dominant position”, whereas the Minister called for a proper global negotiation, and promised to discuss the matter with European counterparts.