France’s competition watchdog orders Google to pay for news reuse
France’s competition authority has ordered Google to negotiate with publishers to pay for reuse of snippets of their content — such as can be displayed in its News aggregation service or surfaced via Google Search.
The country was the first of the European Union Member States to transpose the neighbouring right for news into national law, following the passing of a pan-EU copyright reform last year.
Among various controversial measures the reform included a provision to extend copyright to cover content such as the ledes of news stories which aggregators such as Google News scrape and display. The copyright reform as a whole was voted through the EU parliament in March 2019, while France’s national law for extended press publishers rights came into force in October 2019.
A handful of individual EU Member States, including Germany and Spain, had previously passed similar laws covering the use of news snippets — without successfully managing to extract payments from Google, as lawmakers had hoped.
In Spain, for example, which made payments to publishers mandatory, Google instead chose to pull the plug on its Google News service entirely. But publishers who lobbied for a pan-EU reform hoped a wider push could turn the screw on the tech giant.
Nonetheless, Google has continued to talk tough over paying for this type of content.
In a September 2019 blog post the tech giant dug in, writing — without apparent irony — that: “We sell ads, not search results, and every ad on Google is clearly marked. That’s also why we don’t pay publishers when people click on their links in a search result.”
It has also since changed how Google News displays content in France, as Euractiv reported last year — switching to showing headlines and URLs only, editing out the text snippets it shows in most other markets.