Google strikes payment agreement with six French news outlets

Removes years of uncertainty

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.

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