News Media Alliance Condemns Google’s Refusal to License News Content in France

The News Media Alliance strongly condemns Google’s announcement that, under the newly adopted European Union Copyright Directive, it will stop displaying previews of news articles in France unless a publisher waives its right to compensation. We stand strong with our global partners – including French Culture Minister Franck Riester – in asserting that this position is contrary to both the law and the interests of news consumers.

Article 15 of the EU Copyright Directive, also known as the “Publishers’ Right,” empowers news publishers to protect their content online – including “snippets” and summaries – by asking for compensation from online platforms for use of their content. France is the first EU member state to pass legislation implementing Article 15.

“Snippets” are the brief summaries of news content listed in search results. Research shows that many news consumers only read the “snippet” on Google and don’t click through to the underlying article. Google thereby benefits from the publisher’s content without any payment back to that publisher.

According to its September 25 announcement, Google intends to eliminate snippets in search results once the French law goes into effect. This would hurt consumers and, in effect, force essentially forcing news publishers to waive their newly created rights to protect their content if they want their news content to be highlighted on Google Search, which accounts for 93 percent of search in Europe. Some have claimed this forced waiver amounts to blackmail or extortion.

Alliance President and CEO David Chavern said, “This unilateral decision is in direct conflict with the spirit of the EU Copyright Directive and raises serious questions about Google’s commitment to the future of high-quality journalism. This clearly demonstrates the market dominance of the platforms and their abuse of that power. Even solid copyright protections as envisioned by the EU – which put news publishers on par with the music and film industries – cannot be enforced because Google has a monopoly on search. News publishers around the world must stand together if we hope to have a fighting chance of protecting the future of journalism.”

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