Google agrees to pay French publishers for news previews

With the deal, subscription sites will be able to display certain articles for free.

Google has signed a deal with publishers in France to pay for content used for preview snippets in its news section, Reuters has reported. French regulators forced it to start negotiations with publishers last year following a contentious battle that saw Google completely remove news previews at one point.

The deal framework was struck between Google and the French publishers’ lobby, Alliance de la presse d'information générale (APIG). However, payments will be negotiated with individual publishers based on criteria like political or general information, the number of stories per day and the unique visitors per month.

As part of the deal, French newspapers will gain access to Google’s News Showcase. They’ll also be able to publish full or partial articles and experiment with bulleted or other formats. Subscription sites may also grant readers certain articles for free.

Google was forced to negotiate with publishers after France became the first EU country to implement new rules around an issue called “droit voisin,” or neighboring rights. That’s essentially a copyright law designed for news publishers that forces digital companies like Google and Facebook to pay or at least negotiate to display articles.

“This agreement is an important step, marking the recognition of neighboring rights of press publishers and the start of remuneration," said APIG president Pierre Louette. “This agreement... opens up new perspectives for our partners, and we are happy to contribute to their development in the digital age and support journalism,” added Google France’s managing director, Sébastien Missoffe.

Until being forced by law, Google was dead set against the idea of paying publishers for content, arguing that it already helped websites bring increased traffic. It also noted that most press publishers had granted Google licenses to use and display their content for free. In return, France’s ruling body argued that publishers would have seen steep declines in traffic if they hadn’t done so, because Google has a 90 percent share of the search market. At the same time, Google gained the benefit of providing better search results without having to pay anything.

Since the law was implemented, Google has been negotiating with French publishers on how to apply the rules. By November 2020, it had struck deals with six newspapers and magazines, including the national dailies Le Monde and Le Figaro. However, Google is still negotiating with press agencies like Agence France Press (AFP) and magazine publishers. The financial agreements are confidential, so it’s not yet clear how much publishers stand to gain.