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Google forges agreements with 300 news publishers in Europe to license content under the European Copyright Directive

Google said that it is launching a new tool to make offers to thousands more news publishers, starting in Germany and Hungary, and rolling out to other EU countries over the coming months

Google has struck agreements with over 300 national, local and specialist news publications in Germany, Hungary, France, Austria, the Netherlands and Ireland to license content under the European Copyright Directive, which EU countries are in the process of implementing into national law.

Google wrote in a blog post, “For many years, Google has helped people find information by linking to news and other websites and supported publishers and journalists through products, advertising technology and funding. We are now announcing the launch of a new tool to make offers to thousands more news publishers, starting in Germany and Hungary, and rolling out to other EU countries over the coming months.”

Although, the post did not reveal how much will they pay for the licensing deals.

The Directive allows search engines like Google to freely link to, and use “very short extracts” of press publishers' content. The law also creates new rights for publishers when longer previews of their content are used online - but without defining what exactly a short extract or a longer preview is.

Sulina Connal, Director, News and Publishing Partnerships, Google, said, “Despite this uncertainty, we announced last year that we will pay news publishers for the content which goes beyond links and short extracts, as we are already doing in countries such as Germany.”

Through this new tool, which will be available via Search Console, publishers will be offered an Extended News Preview (ENP) agreement with Google for this content. This will include information about what the offer is for, how to sign up and how to provide feedback.

All offers are based on consistent criteria which respect the law and existing copyright guidance, including how often a news website is displayed and how much ad revenue is generated on pages that also display previews of news content.

The India story

This development in the European countries has strengthened Indian digital news publishers' stance against Google. The Indian digital news publishers have raised their voices to be fairly compensated by Google for the content they produce on which Google advertises.

Earlier in January this year, CCI (Competition Commission of India) ordered a probe into Google when DNPA (Digital News Publishers’ Association) complained against the search engine giant’s abuse of dominance and not being transparent in terms of offering fair compensation to news publishers.

In March 2022, CCI’s another probe into Google, after INS (Indian Newspapers Society) complaint, further strengthened DNPA’s stance of demanding fair compensation from Google for ad revenue share.

Both INS and DNPA have complained to CCI that Google has denied fair advertising revenue to its members, due to which members of the association have to suffer a loss of advertising revenues. The complaint further stated that by way of its algorithms, Google determines which news website gets discovered via search.

Across the world, publishers and governments are forcing technology firms and social media platforms to share revenue with content creators and publishers. In India too, the clamour for the same is growing. Digital news publishers have been taking up the issue with the government on a regular basis for long now.

Currently, almost 80% of India's total digital adex is cornered by Google and Facebook. The media houses that create most of the news content that draws traction for social media firms get very little in return from the two platforms.

In India, Google introduced its News Showcase programme in May 2021. The tech giant sealed agreements with 30 Indian publishers to offer access to some of their content on News Showcase. While some publishers are happy with the additional revenue they earn from Showcase, a few also believe that this is a deterrent in discoverability and a nuisance for smaller publishers. Some even argued that the amount of money Google is offering to Australian publishers through Showcase is a lot more than what they are giving in India.

Globally, not just Google, but Facebook is also facing the heat over the issue of fair payments to publishers. In a recent case of March 2022, around 30 independent media publishers in Australia took part in #WaitingOnZuck, a 24-hour campaign in which they didn’t publish news on Facebook to create pressure to pay for content. This movement caused a huge revenue loss for Facebook.

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