Google has entered into licensing agreements with more than 300 news publishers in the European Union and has launched a tool to extend these agreements to other media, the company announced on Wednesday (May 11).
Negotiations between tech companies and news publishers regarding payment for the latter’s content have been ongoing since the publication of the EU copyright directive. Section 15 of the 2019 law grants publishers “neighboring rights”which entitle them to fair compensation from the platforms in the event of the reuse of their material.
“So far we have agreements covering over 300 national, local and specialist publishers in Germany, Hungary, France, Austria, the Netherlands and Ireland, and many more discussions are in progress. Classes “Google said in a blog post.
More than 220 of these agreements have been concluded with German publishers, in particular with large groups such as Die Zeit, Der Spiegel and Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, as well as with many small local and specialized publications.
As part of the negotiations, Google has offered publishers in countries that have transposed Article 15 to conclude agreements via the“extended news overview” (Extended News Preview, ENP), set up by Google to facilitate the remuneration of publishers.
Under these agreements, Google pays publishers to display a broader view of their news content in search results, for example through the use of snippets and thumbnails.
Wednesday’s announcement also saw the launch of a new tool that the company says will bring these ENP offerings to “thousands of other press publishers”starting with those in Germany and Hungary, before spreading to other EU countries.
The tool will be available through the Google Search Console and will allow publishers to register for ENP status and manage their agreements.
“It is encouraging to see that Google is now making an effort, contrary to the company’s past statements, to comply with local laws and compensate publishers for the use of their content”Wout van Wijk, executive director of News Media Europe, told EURACTIV.
“However, we have to see how it works in practice”he added, “and understand what the benefits are for European news publishers. It’s very much like a take-it-or-leave-it deal, where there’s no room for negotiation over the terms and conditions of the license. »
The executive director of the European Magazine Media Association and European Newspaper Publishers Association (EMMA-ENPA), Ilias Konteas, expressed a similar fear. He told EURACTIV that “These initiatives should not replace fair and non-discriminatory licensing agreements. On this basis, initiatives that choose only a handful of publishers, in the end, do not produce the necessary results. »
Regarding the ENP tool, Mr van Wijk added that the consequences for publishers who chose not to register also needed to be understood. “Will it affect their ranking, their findability? »he asked. “But also, will Google take advantage of it in the negotiations around copyright licenses within the framework of the European directive and Google News Showcase, for example? »
Transposition of the Copyright Directive has been slow, with less than half of Member States having transposed it into national law almost a year after the deadline.
However, where it has been transposed, it has generated considerable controversy, as publishers and platforms have struggled to find common ground.
High-profile disputes have arisen in France, the first country to transpose the directive.
In July last year, the French Competition Authority fined Google €500 million for allegedly failing to meet its obligation to negotiate ” in good faith “ with publishers. Publishers have now created a body through which they can bargain collectively with platforms.
However, some agreements have been reached. Facebook announced in October that it had reached an agreement with the Alliance of General Information Press (APIG), which represents the interests of publishers in the country. Earlier this year, Meta rolled out Facebook News in France, the first EU country to host the platform, partnering with 100 media outlets in the country to offer links to their content.
In both cases, as well as Google’s licensing agreements, the exact details of compensation have not been made public.
Ensuring fair remuneration has also emerged as a matter of consideration in the negotiations on the landmark EU Digital Markets Act (DMA). This law plans to extend the obligations relating to fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms (FRAND) to social media platforms and search engines, and no longer only to app stores (app stores) as in the original proposal.