Google to Pay French Publishers for Online Content

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The internet giant reached a deal to pay French publishers for use of their content on online platforms.

Alphabet's Google has agreed to pay French publishers for the use of their stories on online platforms.

The deal, the first of its kind in Europe, will see the U.S. tech giant pay publishers for online content based on a general framework applicable to all rights holders. Up until now, Google had only signed individual deals with a handful of the bigger French newspapers, including Le Monde and Le Figaro.

The agreement, signed between Google and French publishers’ lobby, Alliance de la presse d’information générale (APIG), will calculate payments based on a number of criteria, including monthly internet traffic, the daily volume of a company's publications, and the fuzzy-sounding "contribution to political and general information."

Neither Google nor the APIG gave specific details on how the remuneration would be calculated or how much money would be distributed to APIG members, which include both national and local publishers. Google and French publishers spent months hammering out a deal.

The online giant needs to find similar solutions across Europe to comply with revamped EU copyright rules, set to come into effect on June 7. The rules allow publishers to demand money from search or social media platforms when they display their content online. The French law, and the EU directive, do not require online companies to compensate rights holders for linking to their content or for including very short extracts, such as headlines, in their online searches.

The precise legal arrangement between publishers and online players will likely vary from country to country within the EU, as will the timing of implementation. There is still widespread disagreement between EU member states as to how the new copyright rules should be transposed into national law.