Online only; updated 07/10/20 and 09/10/20

Google ups the ante - keep pouring that cash...

GOOGLE announced yesterday that it is going to spend $1 billion over the next three years paying publishers for their news. The money will license publishers' content for a new feature in Google News called Google News Showcase. This comes on top of the announcement in July that it was in negotiation with selected publishers.

Interestingly, many commentators are taking the same line on Twitter as I have taken: this is all intended to distract attention from their legal liability to pay for the news content that feeds their profits, under the Digital Single Market Directive - which specifies that journalists should get a fair share.

Consider the headline from NiemanLab: "Google is giving $1 billion to news publishers - to help convince governments not to take a whole lot more than that".

And see this series of Tweets from Emily Bell, sometime director of digital content of the Guardian and now Director of the Tow Center for Digital Journalism, Columbia Journalism School:


Google's extension of $1bn to the news industry (maybe) over 3 years represents c 3x it's current rate of global expenditure on supporting the news industry. Or lobbying against regulation depending on how you see it...

The glaring issue often ignored by those funded by Google (in the press and academic research), is how these interventions potentially make very little difference to long term sustainability for newsrooms, but a lot of difference to the progress - or not - of regulation... read on...

7 October 2020

The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) has responded to Google's announcement. International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) President Younes Mjahed said:

We welcome the decision as an important first step in remunerating the sector. Google has a moral and social responsibility to protect the press, a pillar of democracy. It must offer both publishers and journalists a fair and proportionate remuneration.

EFJ President Mogens Blicher Bjerregård added:

I take this as the first proposal for negotiations for a more general agreement as this can only be a start for wider, much-needed collective licensing framework. We must also ensure transparency of the process so that journalists and authors of media contents all benefit.

Mike Holderness, Chair of the Federations' Authors Rights' Experts Group (AREG) concluded:

Whenever deals are made, journalists' representative organisations should be informed and enabled to negotiate journalists' share of the revenue. This move by Google should not distract European legislators from the need to enforce its legal liability to pay for the news content that feeds its profits, under the Digital Single Market Directive - which specifies that journalists should get a fair share.

8 October 2020

We fixed a couple of typos, including Emily Bell's former post.

9 October 2020

The court of appeal in Paris yesterday confirmed a ruling by the French Competition Authority that Google must negotiate in good faith with newspapers and press agencies over payments for use of work that it publishes. In principle, this should deliver payments to publishers and thence to journalists as provided by the EU Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market... eventually. The SNJ journalists' union responded by asking: where is the Commission that French law requires to set terms in the event that such talks fail?

More comment follows here as it arrives.