Google promises to reimburse French publishers in landmark case

Sarhan Basem
Kyiv, Ukraine - December 10, 2020 : Google homepage on the screen under a magnifying glass. Google is world's most popular search engine

Belgium (Brussels Morning Newspaper) Google has promised it would share a portion of its revenues with French news publishers in an antitrust case which could easily define the tech giant’s relationship with news media in other European countries, as well.

According to the French antitrust agency, Google has committed to renumberate newspaper publishers in order to resolve an ongoing copyright dispute. As part of its commitment, the US-based company has also dropped its appeal against a 500 million euro fine paid last year to the French Competition Authority.

The Authority reported on Tuesday that Google’s response ended its investigation into the matter, with the US company now expected to enter negotiations with news agencies and other publishers in France and reach a settlement on how it would be paying them for displaying their content in its search engine results.

Google has also pledged that the negotiations, which will last a maximum of three months, will have no impact on the way French news is currently being presented on the company’s search pages. If the company will not be able to reach a satisfactory deal with the publishers in the next three months, appropriate remuneration will be determined by a court.

The Competition Authority expressed the belief that Google has made sufficient commitments to address the concerns which have prompted the investigation in the first place. French antitrust chief Benoît Cœuré said that the ruling will be closely examined by other European countries.

The case was initially triggered more than three years ago by France’s major news organizations, including the Agence France-Presse. The publishers argued that Google’s ad sales were profiting off excerpts from their news content, depriving them of potential revenue streams.

Google argued that the news publishers were fairly compensated by increased traffic that its search engine and news aggregators would send to their sites, providing them with an opportunity to increase their own ad revenue.
As the case was proceeding, several French publishers, including AFP and major newspapers Le Monde, Le Figaro and La Libérationreached separate, confidential deals with Google resolving the issue on their side. Google later announced that it had reached agreements with more than 150 French publications for so-called “neighboring rights”.

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Sarhan Basem is Brussels Morning's Senior Correspondent to the European Parliament. With a Bachelor's degree in English Literature, Sarhan brings a unique blend of linguistic finesse and analytical prowess to his reporting. Specializing in foreign affairs, human rights, civil liberties, and security issues, he delves deep into the intricacies of global politics to provide insightful commentary and in-depth coverage. Beyond the world of journalism, Sarhan is an avid traveler, exploring new cultures and cuisines, and enjoys unwinding with a good book or indulging in outdoor adventures whenever possible.