updated 03:13 pm EST, Fri February 1, 2013
$82 million payment into fund mirrors Belgian settlement
Google has come to terms with the French government regarding the search engine's indexing of media in the country. Google has agreed today to pay 60 million euros ($82 million) into a fund to help French media expand and develop exposure on the Internet. Despite publishers in the country lobbying to the contrary, Google will not pay for posting links to French publishers' content.
The agreement signed and forged by Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt and French President Francois Hollande was brokered by a government-appointed mediator. Holland had previously asserted that he would draft legislation forcing Google to pay French media outlets for posting links to content if no deal was signed in a timely manner.
Regarding the deal, Schmidt said in a blog post that "first, Google has agreed to create a €60 million Digital Publishing Innovation Fund to help support transformative digital publishing initiatives for French readers. Second, Google will deepen our partnership with French publishers to help increase their online revenues using our advertising technology."
In December, Google reached a similar deal with Belgian publishers who also believed that they should be paid for links to content. In regards to that settlement, Google said "instead of continuing to argue over legal interpretations, we have agreed on the need to set aside past grievances in favor of collaboration. This is the same message we would like to send to other publishers around the world -- its much more beneficial for us to work together than to fight."
Google has already spent a considerable amount of time fighting similar issues elsewhere in Europe. A five-year legal battle between it and Belgian newspapers at one point saw Google forced to remove newspaper listings from not only Google News, but also from its main search results. This initial block, enforced through a 2006 court order, was seen as retaliation against the media, though access was restored by May 2007. A second, similar content block last year quickly saw newspapers wanting re-inclusion into the main search index.