UNTOUCHABLE SEARCH ENGINE Google has said that it would rather remove all snippets of text from Google News in France than pay publishers for their use.
The warning came as France announced plans to deploy new laws based on the recently passed European Copyright Directive (ECD).
Although most of the attention surrounding the ECD centred on Article 13, the so-called 'meme killer', another controversial element was Article 11, which stated that websites must pay to use extracts of another website's copy.
The idea is to stop people simply lifting big chunks of copy and reposting them verbatim (don't think we don't see you). However, for Google which ‘scrapes' news from third party sources, this would make the service untenably expensive.
Google says it will reintroduce 'snippets' and photos pulled through from publishers who offer their express permission (a concession from the original law). Otherwise, all French Googlers will see is the headline without explanation, hyperlinked.
France isn't the first to see its Google News service crash under the weight of legislation. The service has been completely moved from Spain's version of Google after a similar law about royalties for quotes was passed.
In other words - don't think it won't, it's got previous and it once threatened to remove Google News from Europe altogether to get around the law.
Google argues that it does pay for use of the 'snippets' and photos because a listing in Google News can boost traffic and therefore ad revenue. The ads probably came from Google anyway, so it's a symbiotic relationship of sorts.
Nevertheless, under the new rules, Google is obliged to pay royalties, even if the source owner hasn't asked for them. The only way to avoid them is to get that express permission. We suspect a period of frantic outreach is already underway in Mountain View. µ
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