Google Says $80M French Publishers’ Fund Won’t Be Replicated Elsewhere In Europe

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Google says it not currently looking to create funds to support digital publishers outside France. Google’s comments follow calls last week by Francisco Pinto Balsemao, head of the European Publishers Council, for Mountain View to pay media companies across Europe for displaying their content.

Google has been fighting publishers in European courtrooms for several years, with publishers in Belgium and France bringing copyright cases against it for displaying and aggregating snippets of content in search results and on services such as its Google News aggregator.

Earlier this month Google announced a €60 million ($80.5 million) fund to support French publishers’ digital initiatives — at the same time as announcing it had settled a local copyright dispute. However the company has now confirmed it is not looking to replicate this digital innovation fund support model elsewhere in Europe.

Asked whether it has any plans to create digital innovation funds for publishers in other European countries a spokesman for the company told TechCrunch: “While we are always happy to talk to publishers about additional ideas for driving traffic, engagement, and monetization, we are not currently looking to create a fund outside France.”

Google settled a dispute with Belgian publishers back in December by agreeing to partner with them and help promote their services and content. A similar case was settled in France when Google announced the €60 million fund — although it did not directly link the creation of the fund to the local copyright case. In addition to the fund Google said it would “deepen [its] partnership with French publishers to help increase their online revenues using our advertising technology” — a similar offering to its Belgian settlement.

Google would not comment on what makes the French market different to other European markets but in its blog post announcing the creation of the fund it said it “builds on the commitments we made in 2011 to increase our investment in France” — pointing to the Cultural Institute project, built out of its Paris office, as another example of its investments in the country.

In Germany, draft legislation is currently making its way through Parliament which, if passed, would extend copyright law to cover publishers’ text snippets and require search engines and online aggregators to pay a royalty to license them. Google is lobbying against the extension, calling it “bad law” and arguing that it would break the “founding principle” of the Web’s hyperlink-based architecture.