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26 September 2019

Google Accused Of ‘Flouting The Intention’ Of The Publisher’s Right

Google has been heavily criticised and accused of “flouting the intention” of the Publisher’s Right which was devised to help news media publishers better protect their copyright in the digital environment.

The News Media Association has led calls for the Publisher’s Right to be implemented into UK law after its inclusion in the EU Copyright Directive, following a major campaign by the NMA, News Media Europe and other bodies across Europe. 

France has implemented it and is intending to bring the measure into force next month but Google has been heavily criticised after stating yesterday that it would introduce changes to the way search results are displayed in France rather than seek to compensate publishers for the use of their content.

In a blog post this week, Google said search results should be determined by relevance rather than commercial partnerships. “That’s why we don’t accept payment from anyone to be included in search results. We sell ads, not search results, and every ad on Google is clearly marked. That’s also why we don’t pay publishers when people click on their links in a search result.”

Frank Riester, French Minister of Culture, said: “The political objective pursued by the creation of the neighbouring right, and its translation in the law, are extremely clear: to allow a fair sharing of the value produced, for the benefit of the platforms, by the contents of press. From this point of view, Google's proposal is obviously not acceptable, as I told Mr Gingras and his teams.

“I call for a real global negotiation between Google and the publishers: the unilateral definition of the rules of the game is contrary to both the spirit of the directive and its text. I will speak very soon with my European counterparts to remedy this situation.”

The News Media Association said: “The Publisher’s Right will strengthen the ability of publishers across Europe to protect their journalism from unfair exploitation by third parties and we have urged the UK Government to transpose this into law as soon as possible.

“Urgent action must be taken to redress the imbalance which currently exists in the digital marketplace.  News media publishers must be able to reap the appropriate commercial rewards from their investment in journalism.”

Quoted in the FT, Angela Mills-Wade, executive director of the European Publishers Council, accused Google of “abusing its market power and putting itself above the law, while at the same time pretending they are acting in line with the law”.

“Eventually this will endanger professional journalism and the diversity of the press. The directive was designed to level the playing field between the negotiating power of large tech companies and publishers. It is clear Google are flouting the intention of the law.”