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European Publishers Say Google’s €60M French Fund Does Not Go Far Enough For Content Reuse

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The European Publishers Council (EPC), whose members represent the interests of publishers in 14 European countries, has responded to Google’s establishment of a €60 million fund for French publishers — saying the deal does not go far enough to address “the continuing problem of unauthorised reuse and monetisation of content”. The public statement follows a meeting of its members in Brussels this week.

Commenting in the statement, Executive Director, Angela Mills Wade, said: “The type of deal arranged between Google and a group of French publishers does not address the continuing problem of unauthorised reuse and monetisation of content, and so does not provide the online press with the financial certainty or mechanisms for legal redress which it needs to build sustainable business models and ensure its continued investment in high-quality content.”

The EPC currently represents publishers in Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Greece, Italy, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK. It confirmed it does not currently have French membership.

The EPC statement also reiterates support for members lobbying for legislation to be extended to enable publishers to charge online content aggregators for reusing their content. In Germany a proposed draft law is seeking to extend copyright to cover publishers’ text snippets.

“The EPC is supporting its members in Germany and elsewhere who are holding fast and demanding laws in their countries that would allow publishers to charge aggregators and search engines for reproducing publishers’ content,” Mills Wade added. “The proposed German law, currently in draft form, would apply to any aggregator, not just Google, and would provide a legal basis to prohibit unauthorised use of publishers’ content.”

European publishers are unhappy about Google displaying and aggregating snippets of copyrighted text content in search results and on services such as Google News. Last week the chairman of the EPC, Francisco Pinto Balsemao — speaking in his capacity of CEO of Portugal-based publisher Impresa — called for Google to make payments to publishers in every European country. However on Monday Google confirmed to TechCrunch it has no plans to replicate the €60 million digital innovation fund it has created for French publishers in other European countries.

Google did not directly connect the establishment of the French fund to its copyright dispute with local publishers but did confirm the dispute had been settled when it announced the fund last week. It also said it would be working with French publishers to help boost their online revenues using its ad technologies. There was no agreement to pay for displaying text snippets.

Google also settled a similar copyright dispute in Belgium back in December — which dated back to 2006 — agreeing to partner with publishers to help them promote their content (but again without agreeing to pay royalties for reusing snippets).

In addition to its comments on Google’s French publishers fund, the EPC has also called for a swift resolution to a two-year EU’s regulatory prove into Google’s search practices — in order to, in its words, “restore competition to search and search advertising”. Commenting in a statement, the EPC’s Balsemão called for “a satisfactory conclusion to the competition complaints against Google is crucial to a competitive and transparent market in search and search advertising”.

At the start of this month Google submitted proposals to the EC aimed at resolving this investigation. The EC is currently analysing Google’s proposals.

At the time of writing Google had not responded to a request for comment on the EPC’s statement.