Google has reached an agreement with the French press to remunerate it for the use of its content. The US search platform and the Alliance of the Press for General Information (APIG), the main French media organization, announced on Thursday the pact that seeks to end months of negotiations and litigation in court.
The agreement “establishes the framework within which Google will negotiate individual license agreements with members of the Alliance whose publications are recognized as ‘political and general information’, reflecting the principles established by law,” says the joint statement of the APIG and Google. Said individual agreements “will cover related rights and open access to the News Showcase for newspapers,” the program launched by the American Internet giant with which it pays the media for content, adds the agreed document.
The statement does not specify amounts, a confidential matter in the framework of each sealed agreement, and is limited to indicating that the remuneration provided for in the license agreements with each press editor will be based on criteria such as “the contribution to political and general information , the daily volume of publications or the monthly Internet audience ”.
The two parties consider that the agreement allows “to overcome a great stage” that ends “months of negotiations within the framework determined by the Competition Authority.”
France was the first country in the European Union that, in July 2019, transposed into its legislation the new European directive on so-called neighboring rights, similar to copyright. The directive establishes that press publishers can demand agreements – and payments – from websites and news aggregators such as Google News for using their content. The American giant responded that if they were not given them for free, they would lose visibility in the search engine, to which the APIG, the Union of magazine editors and the Agence France pressed at the end of that year before the Competition Authority .
In April 2020, this instance ruled in their favor, considering that Google, which in 2019 occupied 90% of the search engine market in France, was “likely to have abused its dominant position on the search services market generalist imposing unfair transaction conditions on publishers and press agencies ”. Competition therefore ordered Google to negotiate “in good faith” with the media to agree on a form of payment for using their content. The platform appealed the decision, but the Paris Court of Appeal upheld the order in October, which has now resulted in the joint agreement.
“This agreement constitutes an important stage for Google and confirms our commitment to press publishers within the framework of French law on neighboring rights,” said the CEO of Google France, Sébastien Missoffe. It also “opens up new perspectives for our partners and we are happy to contribute to their development in the digital age and to support journalism,” he added.
The president of APIG and CEO of the group of newspapers Les Echos and Le Parisien, Pierre Louette, also underlined the importance of this new stage “which marks the effective recognition of the neighboring rights of press publishers and the beginning of their remuneration for digital platforms for the use of their online publications ”.