Regulatory pressure payout? Search engine confirms it will pay some news publishers in certain countries to license news content
Google is to pay publishers for ‘high quality’ news content in three countries, amid pressure from regulatory authorities.
The firm announced on Thursday that it will introduce a licensing program that pays publishers for “high-quality content” to be posted on a new service expected to launch later this year. The first three countries it will licence content from are Australia, Brazil, and Germany.
In April this year Google was ordered by the French competition authority to pay French publishers and news agencies for re-using content or news. Australia has also told Google to start paying for news content.
Google announced the decision in a blog post on the matter.
“A vibrant news industry matters – perhaps now more than ever, as people look for information they can count on in the midst of a global pandemic and growing concerns about racial injustice around the world,” said Google. “But these events are happening at a time when the news industry is also being challenged financially.”
“Today, we are announcing a licensing program to pay publishers for high-quality content for a new news experience launching later this year,” Google wrote. “This program will help participating publishers monetize their content through an enhanced storytelling experience that lets people go deeper into more complex stories, stay informed and be exposed to a world of different issues and interests.”
The decision is a notable change of direction from Google, which for years has deflected demands from publishers to pay for distributing their content.
EU Copyright law
For example in September 2019, Google stopped its users in France from being able to view news snippets from European publishers on search results.
France was one of the first EU countries to implement the bloc’s far-reaching copyright reforms.
That meant that French web users were only be able to see the headlines, and not the first few lines or a thumbnail image for news content, unless of course the publishers specifically gave permission for it to show previews.
That came after the European Union passed a controversial copyright law reform in March 2019.
After a long battle, the European Parliament had backed the copyright reforms that aim to close loopholes that had allowed big tech companies such as Google and Facebook to provide news from third-party sources without paying for it.
The rule change had been intended to curb online firms that were seen as benefiting from copyrighted content at the publishers’ expense.
The European initiative’s Article 11 allows publishers to charge online platforms that feature more than short excerpts of articles.
Google’s decision last year to stop its users in France from being able to view news had an impact for French publishers, as traditionally publishers have relied on visibility on Google’s websites to drive traffic to their own websites, which in turn boosts the amount of money the publishers can actually charge advertisers, and subscriptions as well.
In 2014 Google simply turned its news service off in Spain when that country tried to implement a similar measure.
Prior to now, Google in Germany opted to feature only content from those who agreed to provide it for free.
That resulted in traffic for German publisher Axel Springer plunging, after it sought to block the search engine.