► What does Google offer to pay publishers?
Google announced on June 25 a new program for “Help publishers monetize their content”. This new service, which would select media articles with which it would sign license agreements for remuneration, will be offered on Google News and Discover before the end of the year in three countries: Germany, Australia and Brazil.
The American group says it has found common ground with the newspapers The mirror, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and The time in Germany, the press groups Schwartz Media or The Conversation in Australia, newspapers or Associated Diaries in Brazil.
→ EXPLANATION. Neighboring law, publishers united against Google’s “coup”
In a blog post published on June 26, Richard Gingras, Google’s vice president of media, points out that this new licensing program to pay for journalistic content “Will include payment for free access to paid items”. And that his group is ” in discussion “ to extend it to more “Partners and countries in the weeks and months to come”.
► How do French publishers react?
In France, where press publishers are fighting for Google to apply French law which transposes the European directive on neighboring rights to remunerate press content, this initiative is greeted with distrust and annoyance.
→ READ. What does the creation of a neighboring right for the press imply?
“Google shares the names of the newspapers that will receive their subsidies and have fallen into their nets”, reacted on Twitter Pierre Louette, president of the group Les Echos-Le Parisien, assuring that“In France, the fight for neighboring rights continues, a united front”.
Google shares the names of the newspapers that will receive their subsidies and have fallen into their nets. #divideandconquer @derspiegel has cracked: they must have their reasons for betraying. In France, the fight for #droitvoisins continues, a united front. https://t.co/EBTtsx7778
— Pierre Louette (@LouettePierre) June 25, 2020
This reaction illustrates the fear that Google is seeking to sign individual commercial agreements with certain publishers to circumvent the neighboring rights directive. The concern concerns primarily Germany: this country, which had been one of the first with Brazil to want to charge the search engine for the use of press articles, would pave the way for license agreements with Google in Europe, while the directive has not yet been transposed into its legislation.
In France, French publishers had to seize the Competition Authority to force Google to negotiate in good faith with them and find by September a compensation agreement under the law on neighboring rights. Google has committed to it, but clarified that these license agreements constitute “One of the elements of the negotiations”.
► What risk for the application of French law?
Senator PS David Assouline, rapporteur for this law, wants to be reassuring: “The law does not allow this circumvention and the united press has so far assured that it would not be drawn into such a maneuver”, he reacts, hoping that “This will be the case until the end of the negotiations”.
Google has already proposed bilateral agreements to some publishers in the spring, including Le Figaro, Les Echos-Le Parisien, Le Monde or West France for amounts ranging from 90,000 to 900,000 euros per year, but “The discussions remain exploratory and are not conclusive at this stage” according to an article in Le Monde of March 3, 2020.
For Nikos Smyrnaios, teacher-researcher at the University of Toulouse-III and specialist in online press, interviewed by Agence France-Presse, this initiative reflects the character “Asymmetrical” relations between Google, in a situation of virtual monopoly, and very numerous publishers. “This monopoly allows each actor to impose a different relationship, he emphasizes. There is an aura darlings of Google who will have the possibility of touching a little money for the remuneration of their content, but that will mean that the objective of Google remains not to remunerate all the others ».
→ TRIBUNE. Google once again above the law?
Google already spent around 270 million euros to support journalism through the Google News Initiative, but these were subsidies to encourage the digital mutation of titles and not an economic partnership generating income on both sides. . That is to say if the « front uni » posted by the publishers of France, the first country to have transposed the copyright directive, is scrutinized worldwide.