Google agrees to pay the French press agency for the use of online content

Google and the French news agency Agence France-Presse have reached a licensing agreement that will see Google start paying for the use of AFP news content, a milestone in a multi-year effort by publishers to news and French regulators to bring the tech giant to the negotiating table.

The two sides refused to disclose the financial terms of the deal, which was announced on Wednesday evening. It will run for an initial period of five years and will cover Google’s costs for posting AFP content on its services, including the Google search engine, in all countries of the European Union.

“It is the fruit of two years of efforts, in several stages of litigation and negotiation,” Julien Guinot-Délery, media associate at Gide Loyrette Nouel, who represented AFP, told International.

The French Association of News Agencies, which brings together agencies representing photo, audiovisual and magazine publishers, hailed AFP’s agreement as “paving the way for payment” for the use of content from “all other news agencies”.

News agencies around the world, which have lost ad revenue to online aggregators like Google and Facebook, have complained for years that tech companies are using articles in search results or other features without payment.

AFP deal follows a 2019 EU directive and subsequent French copyright law that created “neighboring rights”, forcing tech companies to open talks with news publishers on payment for the use of their content.

Google had resisted opening talks, initially offering news publishers the choice between making their content available to Google for free or not having it used at all on Google platforms.

The litigation took place before competition regulators because of Google’s dominant positions in news research and the sale of online ads in France.

In July, the Competition Authority fined Google 500 million euros for failing to comply with the 2020 injunctions to negotiate in good faith with publishers.

The search engine giant has also quarreled with Australian news publishers for the rights to their content, as has Facebook.

Antoine Choffel, partner of the Gide competition, represented AFP alongside Guinot-Deléry.

Google was represented by Florence Ninane, partner of the Allen & Overy competition.

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