Google (News - Alert) is getting tough with the French – after a proposal was made there to force search engines to pay for content.
If the proposal is enacted in France, Google would exclude French media sites from its search results, according to news reports.
Google claims in a letter to French officials that the proposal "would threaten its very existence.”
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The proposal was backed by French newspaper publishers. They claim Google is getting unfair ad revenue when users search for news.
France’s Culture Minister Aurelie Filippetti backs the proposal, as well. It is "a tool that it seems important to me to develop,” she testified recently.
However, Google France said the fee "would be harmful to the internet, internet users and news websites that benefit from substantial traffic."
In fact, Google takes credit for redirecting four billion views a month to French media sites, the AFP reported based on the contents of the letter.
Earlier, the French government was weighing a tax on online ad revenue. That proposal was withdrawn.
"France has a track record of enacting laws to protect its local media interest that seem out of step with the conventional wisdom in other markets," Adrian Drury, an analyst at Ovum (News - Alert), told the BBC. "The question is whether by returning a search result Google is infringing the copyright of a site. The publishers will continue to contest this, but the general consensus is that it is not.”
Edited by Brooke Neuman