Google strikes payment agreement with six French news outlets

Removes years of uncertainty

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Google
Google campus Photo: Google

Google last week announced that it has agreed with six French news publishers to pay for content. The development comes after years of uncertainty for French publishers and the future of neighboring rights in Europe. Le Monde, Courrier International, L’Obs, Le Figaro, Liberation, and L’Express are the first named signatories.

“We have signed several individual agreements, which reflect the principles of universality, transparency, and respect for the law on which we rely in our discussions …,” said Google France chief Sebastien Missoffe on Google’s blog. The announcement comes about a month after a Paris appeals court ruled Google must continue to negotiate with French news publishers over “neighboring rights.”

“This advance makes it possible to remunerate press publishers in France under the law on neighboring rights, according to objective, transparent, and non-discriminatory criteria, such as the publisher’s contribution to political and general information, its volume publication daily, its monthly Internet audience, as well as the use of content on our sites,” Missoffe said.

Francis Morel, former chief executive officer of Les Échos/Le Parisien and former president of Syndicat Presse Quotidienne Nationale, said in an e-mail interview with INMA, “It’s the first time that Google has agreed to pay for the use of publishers’ content. That’s a very important act from Google and an important victory for French publishers: Google hereby admits, for the first time, that use of content implies payment.”

Alain Weill, president of L’Express, said in the Google statement, “This agreement covering
neighboring rights opens a new chapter in our collaboration with Google and allows us to offer Internet users a new enriched experience thanks to News Showcase.”

Louis Dreyfus, chairman of the management board at Le Monde, was also quoted in the Google statement, “We welcome this agreement signed with Google, which covers our neighboring rights and is part of a strategy to accelerate the transformation of our Group’s economic model. This agreement provides an additional source of funding for the development of Le Monde Group … while preserving the strict independence of our editorial staff, which is our main asset.”

The exact terms of the agreements have not been made public, but according to Le Monde, “The agreements cover neighboring rights to excerpts from articles now indexed in its general search engine and its news search engine (Google News), as well as the publication of content in its entirety.”

Also included in the Google statement was this comment from Marc Feuillée, chief executive officer of the Figaro group, “Discussions with Google have enabled us to agree on the remuneration of our neighboring rights and participation in News Showcase, a new service that will allow us to offer our Internet users an enriched experience on Google sites.”

Google said it is in negotiations with other national and regional dailies and magazines as well.

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future.

Web analytics show that we now have readership in North America and Europe amongst the 90 countries where our five platforms reach. Our traffic which more than doubled in 2020, has at times gone up by another 50% in 2021. And advertising which had fallen to pieces in 2020 and 2021, has started its return since January 2022.

As the economy approaches real growth with unevenness and shortages a given, we are looking forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again appointed to produce the Show Daily on all five days of the show from 26 to 30 May 2022.

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– Naresh Khanna

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