French regulatory authority has ruled that Google’s reuse of news published by media outlets is unfair under the current copyright laws and as such the company needs to pay publishers to show snippets of news in the search results and in Google News.

France is not the first country to make a ruling on this but is working on enforcing it on Google and probably other search engines as well. In 2019, pan-EU copyright reform was passed which forced search engines like Google to pay media outlets for the use of their news snippets in the search. Countries like Germany and Spain have already passed their own version of the law and Spain even made it mandatory to pay publishers, forcing Google to stop its Google News service entirely.

In September 2019, Google wrote a strongly worded blog post clarifying its position. The search giant said, that- “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.” Google has since changed the way it displays news in France which now shows just the headlines and not the snippets from the website.

However, the French regulators hit back stating that Google’s inability to pay the publishers for the use of their work “seriously and immediately damaged the press sector”. The authority also said that Google’s decision to no “longer display article extracts, photographs, infographics and videos within its various services (Google Search, Google News and Discover), unless the publishers give it free authorization” as unfair behavior.

In practice, the vast majority of press publishers have granted Google licenses for the use and display of their protected content, and this without possible negotiation and without receiving any remuneration from Google. In addition, as part of Google’s new display policy, the licenses which have been granted to it by publishers and press agencies offer it the possibility of taking up more content than before.

In these conditions, in addition to their referral to the merits, the seizors requested the order of provisional measures aimed at enjoining Google to enter in good faith into negotiations for the remuneration of the resumption of their content.

– French regulators (in French, translated by TechCrunch)

Lastly, the French authorities have given Google three months to negotiate with publishers in good faith and will be keeping a tab on the company to ensure it follows through.

Since the European Copyright law came into force in France last year, we have been engaging with publishers to increase our support and investment in news. We will comply with the FCA’s order while we review it and continue those negotiations.

– Richard Gingras, VP News, Google (via TechCrunch)

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