Google considering licensing news content from overseas publishers

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According to the Wall Street Journal, Google is currently negotiating with some overseas publishers to host excerpts of their content on the search engine. The Big Tech organization is reportedly talking with publishers based in France and other parts of Europe. If a deal is struck, the corporation will post small content previews on the local versions of its Google News vertical.

Why Google is Considering Licensing News Content

Last September, Google announced it would no longer locally showcase content snippets from French publications in news results. The Alphabet subsidiary made the change after France began enforcing a European Union (EU) regulation regarding copyrighted content. The EU mandate stipulated that sites must pay license fees to publishers if it displays their material.

France became the first EU member to adopt the new law.

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Newsgathering organizations called for the change in copyright rules because they alleged Google earned advertising revenue for their content. Google contends that its search engine directed 8 billion views to European publications every year. The corporation also threatened to pull its News section in any country that required licensing fees for hosting excerpts of copyrighted material.

French publishers alleged Google’s change to its local News vertical was coercive. Subsequently, Gallic antitrust watchdogs said they would launch an investigation into the issue. However, the Wall Street Journal’s report indicates the Silicon Valley titan is considering overhauling its relationships with publishers.

Other Big Tech Firms News Licensing Agreements

If Google chooses to license news content, it won’t be the first big tech firm to do so. In October 2019, Facebook announced it would launch a news section, a user-curated vertical featuring stories on current events. Moreover, the social network reportedly agreed to pay millions of dollars to license content from specific publishers.

At launch, the service boasted partnerships with Bloomberg, BuzzFeed News, Fox Business, The Los Angeles Times, and The Washington Post. Notably, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said his company would not pay publishers fees for showcasing their material. As of this writing, the social network has not fully deployed its current events service.

Similarly, iPhone maker Apple also got into the news syndication business in 2019. In March of last year, the technology corporation launched a new subscription service called Apple News+. For $9.99 a month, users can access content from publishers like the Atlantic, ELLE, Entertainment Weekly, and The New Yorker. Thus far, the company has not revealed how many consumers pay to access premium journalism through its platform.

However, over 100 million people are browsing the free version of Apple’s News service. Last year, Vox reported the corporation offered publishers a 50/50 split on News+ revenue. Conversely, the firm allowed its members to subscribe to outside publications without charging a processing fee. But things might change when Facebook News goes live worldwide.

Throughout last year, Google experienced serious problems with both the French government and EU regulators. As such, the corporation has a significant incentive to make deals with the region’s publishers. Even though it has the capital to absorb major fines without difficulty, it doesn’t need any bad press. And there’s a clear public relations benefit to publicly putting its support behind the work of reputable journalists.


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