Google Signs Deal For News From AFP

Alphabet’s Google division has signed a lengthy deal with a French news agency for its news content.

According to Reuters, Google will begin paying Agence France-Presse (AFP) for its news content as part of broad five-year partnership announced Wednesday. Financial terms were not disclosed.

This is one of the biggest licensing deals struck by a tech giant under a new French law, and comes as Google’s News Showcase scheme continues to sign deals with news publishers around the world.

News Showcase

For years publishers around the world have complained about tech companies costing them lost ad revenue, as news content from local publishers was aggregated on the platforms of Google, Facebook and others.

In an effort to offset continued criticism, Google in June 2020 launched its ‘News Showcase’ scheme, which was designed to compensate news publishers initially in Australia, Brazil, and Germany for the news they produce.

But Facebook and Google had a notable clash with Australian authorities last year over a new law governing payments for local publishers, but in the end all parties eventually resolved their differences.

In January Google signed a News Showcase deal with Reuters, and in February Google relaunched News Showcase in Australia.

It also reached its own deal with News Corp to include the company’s content in Showcase.

Earlier this week Google pledged to spend A$1 billion ($736 million) in Australia over the next five years.

French law

Like Australia, France also implemented its own law, which has also caused problems for Google and Facebook.

France had created a copyright law that created “neighbouring rights,” requiring big tech companies to open talks with news publishers that want a licensing payment.

The French law gave local publishers greater leverage, and it resulted in a deals being signed. For example in February this year Google agreed to pay $76 million (£55m) to 121 French news publishers (not including AFP) to end a copyright dispute.

However that deal was put on hold, pending the outcome of an antitrust proceeding in which France’s competition regulator accused Google of failing to negotiate in good faith.

In July French Competition Authority (FCA) announced that because Google had allegedly failed to comply with the regulator’s orders on how to conduct talks with the country’s news publishers in a row over copyright, it decided to fine Google 500 million euros (£429 million or $591m).

Google labelled that fine as “disproportionate” after it filed an appeal against that decision in September this year.

AFP deal

Into this comes the news this week that Google has signed a deal with AFP.

Google reportedly declined to disclose financial terms of the deal, but confirmed it would run for five years. The companies said in a joint press release that they also will collaborate on projects, such as fact-checking.

“This agreement is a recognition of the value of information,” Fabrice Fries, Agence France-Presse’s chief executive, was quoted by Reuters as saying in a statement.

Meanwhile Sébastien Missoffe, who is the managing director of Google France, said the AFP deal showed the tech company’s “willingness to find common ground with publishers.”

However it should be noted that this deal does not bring AFP into Google’s News Showcase scheme.

Facebook last month signed a neighbouring rights deal with a French alliance including dozens of publishers such as Le Figaro, Le Monde, and Les Echos, as well as a number of regional newspapers.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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