November 18, 2021
The law is a copyright regulation creating so-called “neighboring rights,” which enable news publishers to demand licensing payments from big tech firms that use their news pieces and media. It came into force in 2019 following years of complaints from news organizations that said they were losing profits to online aggregators.
The deal between Google and AFP, which produces and airs multimedia content to its clients in six languages around the world, was 18 months in the making.
The companies have not disclosed financial terms of the agreement, but confirmed it is to run for five years. Under the terms of the deal, Google and AFP will also collaborate on a number of projects, including joint fact-checking work.
“This agreement is a recognition of the value of information,” Fabrice Fries, AFP’s CEO, said in a statement on Wednesday. Calling the deal “pioneering,” Fries noted that it “covers the whole of the EU, in all of AFP’s languages, including in countries that have not enacted the [neighboring rights] directive.”
Earlier this year, Google also struck a deal with a group of 121 French news publishers (not including AFP), agreeing to pay $76 million for the use of their media for three years. However, that agreement has been put on hold after France’s competition regulator fined the tech giant $566 million for failing to negotiate the deal “in good faith.” Google has appealed, and talks on a new agreement are in progress.
Google also has a standing licensing agreement with Reuters and News Corp, the multinational media corporation that owns The Wall Street Journal and a flock of other news outlets, for promoting their content on Google’s News Showcase for a fee.
Last month, another US-based tech giant Facebook (now Meta) signed a neighboring rights agreement with a group of French publishers, including Le Figaro.
US tech giants have increasingly come under fire over taxation, abuse of market power, privacy issues and profiting from media content without sharing the revenue.
A law similar to that of France’s “neighboring rights” has recently been passed in Australia, while Canada also signaled that such regulation is being drafted. The UK last year formed a regulatory unit tasked with drafting a similar regulation, and India’s Newspaper Society in January demanded that Google raise the ad revenue for Indian publishers to 85%.