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French press publishers surrender to Google dominance – for now

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French press publishers surrender to Google dominance – for now

France was the first country to transpose in national legislation the Directive approved by the European Union earlier this year and establishing a publishers' right.

The law will come into force on October 24, 2019, and Google declared on September 23rd that the search engine will from that moment on block virtually any results from European newspapers in France.

The search results will return only links, for European news media that indicated their wish to license their content for Google's use. News media that instead granted to Google free use of their content will see thumbnails and snippets show up on search results.

After an initial outrage supported by news media organisations throughout the world, including WAN-IFRA, the French publishers started adapting their websites to the instructions received from Google.

Indeed, the company never even attempted to start negotiations on fair compensation for the use of news media content, but swiftly provided the strings of code that, embedded in websites, would communicate to crawlers how much content could be used for free.

Journal du net analysed the 30 most read news media websites in France and found that on October 18, already 25 had inserted in their websites the code necessary to communicate to the Google crawlers the amount of text that was free to lift and use in search results without paying licenses.

The snippets for which French news media are waiving their right to compensation vary across the websites examined, from 160 characters to 300 to no limit at all.

Political reactions at the highest levels are in motion, with President Macron calling for Merkel's support in demanding new EU antitrust probes against Google's abuse of dominant position.

The French and German news media trade associations jointly published with the European Newspaper Publishers Association a statement detailing suggestions to ensure that "almost monopolistic platforms" like Google and Facebook stop stifling fair competition and effectively endangering the freedom of the press.


Elena Perotti's picture

Elena Perotti


2019-10-21 10:10

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