Google’s recently settled with French publishers over its use of snippets in searches, and by many accounts the publishers won. Their prize: $80.5 million (€60 million) in support for digital initiatives started by French publishers. This announcement didn’t go unnoticed, and now other European publishers want in on Google’s money.
Google got into a battle with French publishers for linking to their content without permission or payment. Linking alone is benign. Linking with snippets of content (one or two sentences to give readers a preview) isn’t. This, the French argued, was tantamount to copyright violation because Google drove profits from previewing their articles without paying for them.
The $80.5 million settlement will be used to support digital initiatives in the French publishing world, according to Techcrunch.
Now the head of the European Publishers Council, Francisco Pinto Balsemao, is demanding that Google extend their program to the rest of Europe’s publishers.
“Search engines get more than 90 percent of revenues from online advertising and a substantial part of these come directly or indirectly from the free access to professional news or entertainment content produced by the media,” Balsemao told Reuters (Reuters is represented by the EPC).
Google said they have no intrest in penning a similar deal for other European publishers.
And some European publishers appear to have no intrest in a smilar deal either. According to WebProNews, German publishers aren’t looking for a France-like agreement because it only deals with Google, and not other search engines.
But the French agreement may be an omen for Google and other link-based search engines. Google’s deal, writes Alistar Fairweather for Techcentral, may as well paint a giant target on the multi-billion dollar search engine’s back — a target many economically-struggling European governments would be more than happy to hit to fill their wallets. Before the deal was signed, the French government was considering a “link tax” which would tax Google and other search engines every time they link to a French publisher. By conceding to the French publishers to avoid the tax, the search engine has signaled that governments can pressure Google into funding struggling industries.
Fairweather may have a point: German lawmakers, Techcrunch reports, are drafting legislation which would require search engines to pay a fee for linking to German publishers with snippets.