Publishers criticise French media for €60m Google deal

The European Publishers Council (EPC) has criticised the French media for striking up a €60m (£51.8m) deal to help newspapers develop their online presence.

Last month French president Francois Hollande made the “historic agreement” with Google after two months of negotiations.

The deal saw Google create the €60m Digital Publishing Innovation Fund to help support newspapers online. Google also agreed to assist publishers with advertising technology.

The EPC, which represents organisations including News International, Trinity Mirror, DMGT, Financial Times and Telegraph Media Group, said the deal does not tackle issues surrounding internet copyright.

“The type of deal arranged between Google and a group of French publishers does not address the continuing problem of unauthorised reuse and monetisation of content,” said the EPC’s executive director Angela Mills Wade.

She added that it “does not provide the online press with the financial certainty or mechanisms for legal redress which it needs to build sustainable business models and ensure its continued investment in high-quality content”.

According to the Financial Times, Hollande had previously threatened to force Google through legislation to pay a share of its revenue from links to articles. Google rejected French publishers’ demands that it should pay for displaying snippets and links to articles.

After the deal was made, Google chairman Eric Schmidt (left in picture with Hollande) said the company was committed to working with the media, saying the search engine helps generate traffic to websites. He also pointed out that Google Play is another way for publishers to make money.

But the EPC said publishers were wrong to agree to the deal, highlighting the fact that other countries which are refusing to make similar concessions.

“The EPC is supporting its members in Germany and elsewhere who are holding fast and demanding laws in their countries that would allow publishers to charge aggregators and search engines for reproducing publishers’ content,” said Mills Wade.

“The proposed German law, currently in draft form, would apply to any aggregator, not just Google, and would provide a legal basis to prohibit unauthorised use of publishers’ content.”

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