French Appeals Court Orders Google To Talk To Publishers

Google may have to dip into its financial pocket sooner than expected in France, after it was ordered to begin talks with French content publishers.

In April this year, France’s competition authority had ordered Google to pay French news agencies and publishing firms for re-using their content.

The ruling by the French ‘Autorite de la Concurrence’ body, had followed an earlier complaint by several unions representing French press publishers regarding Google’s practices. Effectively, the French regulator had ordered Google to begin talks with media groups demanding payment when the search giant displays their content.

Begin talks

But Google opted to seek clarification with the French appeals court which now, according to Reuters, has ordered Google to open talks with publishers in France within three months about paying to reuse their content.

This court ruling could have big implications for Google in Europe, as it orders Google to pay publishers under the “neighbouring right” enshrined in revamped EU copyright rules, which allows publishers to demand a fee from online platforms for showing news snippets.

Google in September 2019 had stopped its users in France from being able to view news snippets from European publishers on search results.

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.

Google took the decision after the European Union had passed a controversial copyright law reform in March 2019.

News Showcase

And it should be noted that this ruling is totally different from Google’s other content announcement last week, when it announced the ‘News Showcase’ scheme, which would see news publishers in Australia, Brazil, and Germany starting to be compensated for the news they produce.

Google later pulled Australia from that $1 billion scheme due a disagreement with tough local restrictions down under.

Essentially, unlike Google’s News Showcase scheme, the French arrangement would involve finding a sustainable method to remunerate publishers and news agencies for news.

“Our priority remains to reach an agreement with the French publishers and press agencies,” Google was quoted as saying in a statement. “We appealed to get legal clarity on some parts of the order, and we will now review the decision of the Paris court of appeal.”

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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