The turbulent negotiations lasted several months. Google and the General Information Press Alliance (APIG, which represents national dailies, including The world, and the regional, daily and weekly press), announced Thursday, January 22 the signing of an agreement paving the way for the remuneration of the French press by the Internet giant under the “Neighboring right”.
In the name of the European directive on copyright, the French press is demanding remuneration for the use of extracts from its content in the search engine. “The General Information Press Alliance and Google today announce an agreement on the remuneration of neighboring rights under French law”, announced the two parties in a joint statement, stressing that it was about “The culmination of many months of negotiations within the framework set by the Competition Authority”.
Individual agreements with each media
This agreement “Sets the framework within which Google will negotiate individual license agreements with members” APIG, explain the signatories. These will be licensing agreements that “Will cover neighboring rights, and will also give newspapers access to News Showcase”.
This new space was created by Google during negotiations to accommodate entire media content in a new tab of its news search engine. The media, which will be remunerated for this content, will be able to publish articles or innovative formats, such as bulleted articles. Paid media will be able to display certain articles made free for the occasion.
According to the press release, the remuneration of publishers will be calculated individually and “Based on criteria, such as, for example, the contribution to political and general information, the daily volume of publications or even the monthly Internet audience”. It remains to be seen how much this windfall could represent for the French press, the financial data of the agreement being confidential. Contacted by Agence France-Presse (AFP), Google and APIG did not provide any details on this subject.
For Pierre Louette, CEO of Les Echos-Le Parisien Group and President of APIG, this agreement “Marks the effective recognition of the neighboring right of press publishers and the start of their remuneration by digital platforms for the use of their online publications”. For his part, the boss of Google France, Sébastien Missoffe, sees it as confirmation of a « engagement » which opens to them “New perspectives”.
APIG and Google have come a long way: the French press accused Google at the end of 2019 of flouting neighboring rights, this right similar to copyright, created by a European directive and supposed to lead to a better sharing of revenues from the digital technology for the benefit of newspaper publishers and news agencies.
This new right barely entered into force in France, Google had decided unilaterally to index less well the newspapers which would refuse to let it continue to exploit their contents (titles, extracts of articles and thumbnails) for free in its search results. The French press, having little choice, had complied but immediately seized the Competition Authority, which had ordered in April 2020 to Google to negotiate ” in good faith “ with the publishers, a decision then confirmed by the Paris Court of Appeal.
Previous agreements with certain press titles
It was in this context of negotiations that Google said in October it was close to a framework agreement with the APIG, then announced in November that it had concluded the first individual agreements with certain press titles (The world, Le Figaro, Release and L’Express).
This three-year framework agreement does not cover all of the French written press, in particular press agencies, including AFP, still in the midst of negotiations with Google, while discussions with the Syndicate of publishers of the magazine press (SEPM) and the American group have so far come to nothing.
“I am delighted that the recognition of neighboring rights is materializing for the first time in Europe and we are now waiting for the first step, which is always the most difficult, to be taken, for Google to continue its momentum and to extend this recognition to others eligible actors, including news agencies ”, commented AFP CEO Fabrice Fries.