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France Applies Tax Pressure To Google For Republishing News Snippets 350

Posted by timothy
from the department-of-rent-seeking dept.
Qedward writes "France may introduce a law to make Google pay to republish news snippets if it doesn't strike a deal with French news publishers before the end of the year, the office of French President François Hollande said. French publishers want to share in the revenue that Google earns from advertising displayed alongside their news snippets in search results. Readers are often satisfied by reading the headline and summary published by Google News, and don't feel the need to click through to the news site, the publishers say. In this way, Google profits and the content creators don't. The publishers want to be able to charge Google to compensate them for ad revenue losses."
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France Applies Tax Pressure To Google For Republishing News Snippets

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 30, 2012 @11:05AM (#41818157)

    The French really want to be removed from the internet...

    • Minitel (Score:5, Funny)

      by alexander_686 (957440) on Tuesday October 30, 2012 @11:09AM (#41818205)

      That's o.k. - They still have Minitel.

    • by poetmatt (793785) on Tuesday October 30, 2012 @11:11AM (#41818225) Journal

      Not quite. They want to get paid by force since they haven't tried to earn money via adapting to changes to technology.

    • by Sulphur (1548251)

      The French really want to be removed from the internet...

      Its a vast Yahoo conspiracy.

    • by Joce640k (829181) on Tuesday October 30, 2012 @11:35AM (#41818545) Homepage

      I wonder if they've ever heard of "robots.txt"?

      Last I heard, Google was honoring it....

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I wonder if they've ever heard of "robots.txt"?

        Last I heard, Google was honoring it....

        But then they would get zero money and disappear from google search's results. What they want is being indexed by google *and* being payed for it (because google displays there content on google news).

        robots.txt doesn't allow this.

      • by kelemvor4 (1980226) on Tuesday October 30, 2012 @11:44AM (#41818645)

        I wonder if they've ever heard of "robots.txt"?

        Last I heard, Google was honoring it....

        That would work fine if they wanted to be removed from the index. They want to receive Google's indexing service free and they also want Google to pay them for the privilege of giving them free indexing services. I bet if Google dropped them from the indexes for a few weeks, they'd be begging to get back in.

        • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

          Google doesn't just index their sites though, they built their own portal and filled it with content from the newspaper's web sites. The papers are arguing that Google News is a destination in itself and often people get enough detail just from that site than to the snippets.

          Web search is different because most of the time you don't go to Google just to look at the search results, you go to find sites and then visit them. Of course now Google actually presents a lot of data right on the search page so it is

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by jalopezp (2622345)

        The French newspapers know what they're doing. They don't want to be unlisted from Google, that would be a terrible idea. If you're not listed in the largest search engine, no one can find you and you're in trouble. But if they all threaten to unlist together, then it's Google who is in trouble in France. Google is in the business of linking people to content, and it can't do that without any content, so the newspapers (as long as they act together, and especially if the government backs them) have a footho

        • by silanea (1241518)
          The danger in this is that a concerted Google boycott from established news outlets may well provide an incredible opportunity for businesses who actually "get" the Internet but were previously drowned out by big name publications to reach a huge audience with virtually no competition. Would they really risk that?
          • by cayenne8 (626475)

            The danger in this is that a concerted Google boycott from established news outlets may well provide an incredible opportunity for businesses who actually "get" the Internet but were previously drowned out by big name publications to reach a huge audience with virtually no competition. Would they really risk that?

            I dunno.

            I don't personally see this jumpstarting a successful company whose sole benefit starting out is, that they index French news sites and pay the sites for the priv.

            I suppose they could gr

        • by cdrguru (88047)

          You seem to think the only sources of French news are in France. How about CNN or BBC? I'm sure they cover events and happenings in France.

          Unfortunately, in some respects, when it comes to the Internet there is no such thing as a monopoly or even a cartel. France can't block news about France no matter how hard they try.

    • Three strike law applies to France => two more strikes remaining until Google stops indexing them.
  • by WOOFYGOOFY (1334993) on Tuesday October 30, 2012 @11:06AM (#41818167)

    If it's really just snippets of a larger value proposition that people are allegedly willing to pay for, then I think this is better known elsewhere in the world as "free advertising".

    Sorry France. Love your healthcare system, but this is just silly.

    • by cayenne8 (626475)

      Sorry France. Love your healthcare system, but this is just silly.

      Hey...they gotta pay for that healthcare system somehow.

      At some point, you run out of someone else's money. At the point...locally they're getting squeezed badly, so I'm guessing steps like this are a testing ground to grab more money for the country in general, to help pay for it.

      ie: Testing for a new source of "someone else's" money...

  • Here's a hint (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gman003 (1693318) on Tuesday October 30, 2012 @11:07AM (#41818183)

    If people can get all they want out of a headline and a paragraph, maybe you should focus on making the article have more *content* and less fluff.

    • Re:Here's a hint (Score:5, Interesting)

      by HexaByte (817350) on Tuesday October 30, 2012 @11:11AM (#41818231)

      Yes, indeed. Will these newspapers now put their publications behind darkened glass paper dispensers, so that no one will just look at the headline and decide no to buy it?

      "We want free advertising of our product, but don't want you to make any money doing it for us!" Google should consider charging them for advertising they're giving them.

      • Re:Here's a hint (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Baron_Yam (643147) on Tuesday October 30, 2012 @11:30AM (#41818465)

        "Google should consider charging them for advertising they're giving them"

        I like this solution. Google should announce that they will be billing back any fees levied in France against the newspapers they index, plus a bit for administrative overhead. Any paper that doesn't like it can be banned from Google's index.

      • Will these newspapers now put their publications behind darkened glass paper dispensers

        The paper version of the Wall Street Journal has been doing this for decades: They only show headlines and article summaries above the fold, counting on you to want to buy the paper to read more.

    • by Inda (580031)
      Those people would be me.

      If the headline says "Jacko is dead" that's enough information for me to start a real conversation with colleagues, friends and the wife. Being a gobby know-it-all is not good when you want a proper discussion.

      If it's a subject with a bit more meaning, I'll try the BBC first, Sky News second, ITN, C4 - all news providers I've already paid for. Maybe The Telegraph, The Sun, The Daily Fail, if the subject interests me. The chances are it's on Twitter, G+ and the ilk too.

      Local news is
    • And you are wrong. It does not matter how much content they add. Look, most of the news, many of us (and I would dare , the majority) do not care at all about the detail, the title line are enough. "PSG win 1-0" "Hamas put a bomb in tel aviv" "Obama announce a new tax". "greece economy sink even more" they are news for which i will look at the title , may even skim the summary, then not even *bother* reading the in depth article.

      As such the newspaper are right. I read google summary and the newspaper, des
  • by SternisheFan (2529412) on Tuesday October 30, 2012 @11:08AM (#41818197)
    I use GoogleNews, and it's a great way to learn about the world. Newspapers from different countries have made the same complaint as French papers are doing now. A few weeks/months later, after they see their website 'hits' go way down, they ask to be part of GopgleNews again. I expect the same is going to happen here.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Don't underestimate the French, they have a record of mixing up stubborness and arrogancy.

      • If Google stops indexing all French news sources, it strikes me that any attempt to go after it after that must certainly be a violation of international trade laws.

  • Google.... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 30, 2012 @11:08AM (#41818199)

    Should just drop their sites from their search results,

  • by happy_place (632005) on Tuesday October 30, 2012 @11:09AM (#41818209) Homepage
    I wouldn't know the majority of news sites if it weren't for Google's aggregation. So I wouldn't click their sites at all. This seems like they're wanting compensation for something that already compensates them by listing them and making their site more visible.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I wouldn't know the majority of news sites if it weren't for Google's aggregation. So I wouldn't click their sites at all. This seems like they're wanting compensation for something that already compensates them by listing them and making their site more visible.

      Actually the payment should flow both ways. If the French (and Belgian, and German) Publishers want to free-ride google and charge google for the pleasure, then I don't really see why google shouldn't charge them for the privilege. Could get to be quite fun.

  • by krelvin (771644) on Tuesday October 30, 2012 @11:11AM (#41818229)

    If a site doesn't want Google to make money off of their content headlines... then they can easily opt out of having Google pick up their data and index it.

    But NO... they WANT the exposure and get a cut too.... if the law is passed, cut them off. Simple

  • by concealment (2447304) on Tuesday October 30, 2012 @11:16AM (#41818289) Homepage Journal

    Readers are often satisfied by reading the headline and summary published by Google News, and don't feel the need to click through to the news site, the publishers say.

    I'm certainly from this group.

    However this view avoids the real question: How is online content going to be paid for?

    Newspapers already cannot make enough money off of online advertising to pay for the creation of their content.

    I don't see internet users lining up for (a) micropayments or (b) some kind of universal subscription, and they're definitely not thinking about (c) maintain subscriptions to each of the 50 newspapers and magazines who post articles they want to read.

    Seriously, why can't I get a Slashdot or Google subscription for $50 a year to read all these articles without ads and with the ability to retrieve them infinitely?

    Your average newspaper's website would have to improve in navigability and reliability too.

    There's a lot more to this question than one lawsuit can answer.

    • by 0123456 (636235) on Tuesday October 30, 2012 @11:34AM (#41818529)

      Maybe if the average newspaper contained 'content' which wasn't freely available on the web or had more intellectual content than 'Temporary Star X has bought a new dress', people might be willing to pay for them.

      • That's a really excellent point. People have been complaining for decades or centuries that the news is either contentless, or yellow journalism, or salacious.

        There should be a news source for people who really don't care about Honey Boo-Boo. Usually, that's a high-quality newspaper like the Wall Street Journal or New York Times.

        I wouldn't mind if we lost all the "news" that was contentless, yellow or salacious (gossip). The perception is that many more people "want" that news than not.

        It could be that as n

    • by rolfwind (528248)

      Seriously, why can't I get a Slashdot or Google subscription for $50 a year to read all these articles without ads and with the ability to retrieve them infinitely?

      Yeah, great, a google wall to extract $50 a year from me. Soon, no other search engine but google will be allowed to index via their robots.txt.

      And if you don't think that's possible, Google made their formerly free froogle/Google Shopping indexing service utterly worthless (to me) by making merchants to pay to be included in the first place.

      I l

    • It's not as if we have a shortage of online content. The supply has actually increased tremendously and thus the effective market price of any individual piece has gone down. That sucks for the content producers, because their business is less profitable than it used to be, but no one said they were entitled to a certain level of profit. If they want to make more money, it's up to them to figure out how, preferably by innovating and contributing something new to society rather than rent-seeking.

  • robots.txt (Score:4, Interesting)

    by kenorland (2691677) on Tuesday October 30, 2012 @11:17AM (#41818303)

    Maybe newspapers who don't want to get republished by Google should learn about "robots.txt"? Granted, it's more than a decade old, but it still works.

    • The newspapers WANT to be republished . . . AND they want to be paid for it. It's like wanting to be a member of a club, and insisting that the club pay you to be a member.

      The whole thing is just about money. Google has it. The French newspapers don't. So the French government is looking for a way to channel money from Google to their newspapers.

      I have an idea that would increase the readership of French newspapers . . . they could publish in English.

      • by TheP4st (1164315)

        It's like wanting to be a member of a club, and insisting that the club pay you to be a member.

        Aha! That's how they got the idea, they found inspiration in the pro-athlete world.

      • The newspapers WANT to be republished . . . AND they want to be paid for it.

        But this law won't accomplish that either. If this becomes law, Google will simply not republish any newspaper that doesn't agree on its own accord to allow Google to do so without charge.

  • by JustAnotherIdiot (1980292) on Tuesday October 30, 2012 @11:24AM (#41818397)
    I wonder if France realizes if they do this, Google will just pull french news sources from their site.
    It's a Lose/Lose situation, Google has less news, these french sites get significantly less traffic.
    Sure they might be complaining they don't get much, but i can guaran-fucking-tee you they'll get less without Google.
    • by Talderas (1212466)

      France realizes it. Google flat out told them if the law passes they will delist the French news organizations.

      France's response? "You don't threaten a democratically elected government."

      • "You don't threaten a democratically elected government."

        Quite right. They are threatening the french newspaper corporations, not the government. Maybe some of these companies are state-owned. Tough shit.

      • by horza (87255)

        Indeed, there are more details here [rivierareview.com] about it. Apparently Google passes on 4 billion click-throughs per month... methinks traffic would drop for those papers quite significantly if they got de-indexed. Under the new law, if any of those click-throughs fail to compensate the owner then there is up to €300,000 fine for each.

        Phillip.

  • by mark-t (151149) <markt@@@lynx...bc...ca> on Tuesday October 30, 2012 @11:29AM (#41818459) Journal

    Legitimate news reports don't "create" anything. You can't "create" facts... you can only observe them and record them. You can't really own a fact either.

    Or are they suggesting that french news reporters somehow also manufacture the facts?

    • What is being monetized when publishing news is reputation. Anybody can report "facts" but will you trust them?

  • by CharmElCheikh (1140197) on Tuesday October 30, 2012 @11:34AM (#41818521)
    Francois Hollande's government has been pulling new creative taxes out of their asses for a little while now. That one's completely silly but it's not the only one. Another one is a new tax on beer. I guess that's how he figures he will raise France problems: raising even more taxes, yey! That's new and usually very popular, right? The fact that it's very sneaky could have worked... if people didn't notice. Some taxes are too silly to get unnoticed. Some others are surfacing up, like a new 15% tax on rents. People are getting pissed. He'd better put these taxes to EXCELLENT, EXCELLENT use or else he's out at next election.
    • Francois Hollande's government has been pulling new creative taxes out of their asses for a little while now.

      +5, Informative, thank you. This story sounded like a sneaky populist tax all along.

      Another one is a new tax on beer.

      Wow, that one ought to rile Slashdot folks . . .

      Now, having just returned from a vacation in France, and meeting some really nice folks there, I understand de Gaulle's 246 kinds of cheese comment. But why does the stinkiest cheese always seem to end up as President?

    • The eventual equilibrium saddle for this, after everyone is done punching and counterpunching, is:

      (1) The new law destroys the fair use provisions of France Intellectual and Property Code, Art. L. 122-5(3)(a)
      (2) Content providers may request payment for content on what was previously "fair use"
      (3) Google offers free listing to those who allow indexing of content (a cross-licensing agreement)
      (4) Google considers indexing any content requiring payment to be advertising, and charges for it
      (5) Net zero money ac

  • The papers just write down what they read online.
  • I have to side with the French newspapers on this one. They own the copyrights to the material they write, and should be able to (try to) charge for others, including Google, to use that.

    As many people have pointed out, it's hard to see how this will work to the newspapers' advantage. They are saying "no" to free advertising. But, if they want to assert their rights and cling to an obsolete 20th-century business model, good luck to 'em. AFAIK the law is on their side.

    Now if I were a shareholder in French me

    • by Githaron (2462596)
      Have you ever used Google News [google.com]? It uses just the title and first sentence of the article. It is basically a news search instead of a general search with a news feed of the most recent entries. If don't know if their are Fair Use laws in France but I don't see why Google would owe the news sites anything. They don't even have ads on the site. My guess is that they only run it to encourage people to use their other products that do have ads or cost something.
    • by sFurbo (1361249) on Tuesday October 30, 2012 @12:13PM (#41818963)

      They own the copyrights to the material they write, and should be able to (try to) charge for others, including Google, to use that.

      No, they should be able to stop Google from using it if they don't like the terms. If only there was some easy way to politely tell Google not to index certain pages [google.com]. Then the french newspapers could do that, if they don't want certain readers to read what they have freely put on the web.

  • If Google won't play ball, expect French news headlines and first sentences to start sounding generic:

    Lawmakers vote today

    Today's traffic

    Tomorrow's weather

    Defendant hears decision from judge

    The real "news" will be 2 or 3 sentence down.

  • by PPH (736903) on Tuesday October 30, 2012 @12:28PM (#41819131)

    What ads? I don't get any ads with my Google News headline pages.

    I guess if France wants their percentage of zero .....

  • French publishers want to share in the revenue that Google earns from advertising displayed alongside their news snippets in search results.

    First, there are no ads on Google news. Second, search results? What? People doing a search are most likely going to follow one of the links on the results page. I haven't seen anyone do a search and just browse the results listing and be satisfied.

  • Slashdot has summaries of articles, snippets, and links to other publications. Necessairement, nous aussi devons payer, n'est-ce pas?
  • from sone else to redirct peopel to yuor site.
    I ca'n theklp but notice the argument has gine from:
    "Google shows the article"
    to
    "Google shows a snippet and that prevent people from going to the site."
    Both of which is poppy cock.

    random grabbed snippet:
    "By Serena Gordon HealthDay Reporter. TUESDAY, Oct. 30 (HealthDay News) -- Racial disparities in breast cancer survival persist, even after factors such as education, neighborhood and socioeconomic status are accounted for, new research finds."

    Why wouldn't I cli

  • How is this much different from reading the headline through the glass at a paper vending machine? The newspapers ought to be paying Google for the traffic.

  • Monopoly muscles (Score:3, Interesting)

    by damaki (997243) on Tuesday October 30, 2012 @01:59PM (#41820261)
    Many commenters here oversimplify the problem. Do not forget that Google is in a monopolistic position. Deindexing newspaper web pages could be considered as Google using their monopoly as an advantage.
    And then, it becomes much more interesting as Europe is constantly probing many companies for such evil monopolistic behaviors. Europe could force google to index these newspapers, and France has much more legislative influence over Europe than Belgium which attempted the same kind of tax, several years ago.
    • by jjo (62046) on Tuesday October 30, 2012 @05:01PM (#41823195) Homepage
      The problem is not forcing Google to index these papers, but forcing them to index and then forcing them to pay for the privilege. The French newspapers seem to be saying that Google listings are tremendously damaging to their business, and Google must therefore pay compensation. The newspapers seem also to be saying that this is very valuable damage, so valuable that Google must be forced to continue damaging them. Sounds a little inconsistent to me.
  • by kawabago (551139) on Tuesday October 30, 2012 @02:26PM (#41820597)
    This is like suing the shopping mall your store is in because people in the mall don't want to come into your store. It's not the mall's fault!

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