Google strikes payment deal with French media | #internetlaw | #privacylaw

Paris: Google said on Thursday that it had signed ‘some individual agreements’ on copyright payments with French newspapers and magazines after months of wrangling over the sharing of revenues from the display of news in search results. Signatories to the deal included top French dailies Le Monde, Le Figaro and Liberation, as well as magazines like L’Express, L’Obs and Courrier International.

In a statement, Google France chief Sebastien Missoffe said talks with other media groups were continuing, with a goal of reaching “a framework agreement by the end of the year”. The announcement came after a Paris appeals court ruled last month that the US giant must continue to negotiate with French news publishers over a new European law on socalled “neighbouring rights”, which calls for payment for showing news content with internet searches.

News outlets struggling with dwindling print subscriptions have long been seething at Google’s failure to give them a cut of the millions it makes from ads displayed alongside news search results. With the Covid-19 crisis crimping sales even further, several top French publications are expected to report huge losses this year. But Google had refused to comply with the digital copyright law, which France was the first in the EU to enact, saying media groups already benefit by receiving millions of visits to their websites.

Financial specifics were not disclosed, but Missoffe said payments would be based on criteria including daily publication volumes, monthly internet traffic, and “the publisher’s contribution to political and general information”. Agence France-Presse, which along with other media groups has lodged complaints against Google with France’s competition regulator, did not sign the accord.

But AFP chief executive Fabrice Fries said he was “optimistic” about improved relations with Google and other Internet giants such as Facebook and Apple. “We get a sense that attitudes have shifted over the past few months,” Fries told a media conference in Paris on Thursday, saying he aimed to double the agency’s revenues from Internet platforms from around ¤10 million a year currently.

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