12 October 2020CopyrightMuireann Bolger

France rules Google must pay for news content

Google will have to negotiate payments with French publishers for using their content, according to an appeals court ruling in France handed down on Thursday, October 8.

According to the decision, the technology company will be forced to engage with publishers and news agencies under the rule of “neighbouring right”, a EU copyright rule passed last year that enables publishers to demand a fee from online platforms for displaying their content.

France is first of the European Union member states to commit to incorporating the rule for news into national law. The reform includes a provision to extend copyright to encompass news stories that Google aggregates and displays.

The president of France's competition authority, Isabelle de Silva, lauded the “very important decision” on Twitter. “Competition applies to everyone, including in the digital world,”  she said.

According to the French competition authority, Google’s refusal to show “longer display article extracts, photographs, infographics and videos within its various services, unless they can access it for free” constitutes “unfair behaviour”.

Google and Facebook have also come under fire for their copyright practices in Australia, where regulators want companies to pay for using news content.

The French ruling came hours after Google claimed it was about to negotiate its own deal to remunerate French publishers for their news.

Meanwhile, last week, Google pledged to pay $1billion to publishers worldwide over the next three years for their content, a project which is set to launch in Germany, where it has signed deals with newspapers including Der Spiegel, Stern, Die Zeit, and with Folha de S.Paulo and Infobae in Brazil.

In a blog post last month, Google stated: "We don't accept payment from anyone to be included in search results. 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.”

Some EU member states, including Germany and Spain, have adopted laws to force Google to pay for news content—without extracting the hoped for payments from Google. In Spain, Google responded by rescinding its news service entirely.

Google dominates Europe’s search market with more than a 90% share of the market.

WIPR has approached Google for comment.

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