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October 19, 2012

Google Warns the French its Media Sites will be Excluded from Search Results if it's Forced to Pay for Content

By Ed Silverstein, TMCnet Contributor

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.”

Image via Shutterstock

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 That proposal was withdrawn.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.”

In related news, European regulators told Google this week that it can either fix its new privacy policy or face possible fines within a few months, TechZone360 reported.

France’s CNIL – which took the lead in the review of Google’s privacy policy – warned Google that it could face legal action if it did not make the needed changes.

Edited by Brooke Neuman
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