Facebook and others 'next' after Google signs with French publishers

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Political and general interest publications are expected to benefit most from France's historic agreement with Google on payment for content.

That's the view of former chief executive of Les Échos/Le Parisien - and former president of Syndicat Presse Quotidienne Nationale - Francis Morel, quoted by INMA's L. Carol Christopher.

In an email interview, he stressed the importance of Google's act: "It's the first time that Google has agreed to pay for the use of publishers' content.

"That's a very important act from Google and an important victory for French publishers: Google hereby admits, for the first time, that use of content implies payment."

Six French news publishers - Le Monde, Courrier International, L'Obs, Le Figaro, Liberation, and L'Express - are the first to have agreed to individual remuneration offers from Google, after a Paris appeals court ruled Google must continue to negotiate with French news publishers over 'neighbouring rights'.

In a blog, Google France's Sebastien Missoffe said the individual agreements "reflect the principles of universality, transparency, and respect for the law on which we rely in our discussions".

Christopher says that "although details are still unknown, industry experts think the move by Google in France bodes well for news media publishers in other countries to receive payment for content".

Google quoted L'Express president Alain Weill, and Louis Dreyfus, chairman of the management board at Le Monde. "This agreement covering neighbouring rights opens a new chapter in our collaboration with Google and allows us to offer internet users a new enriched experience thanks to News Showcase," Weill said.

Dreyfus said the agreement provided an additional source of funding for the development of Le Monde Group, "while preserving the strict independence of our editorial staff, which is our main asset".

According to Le Monde, the agreements cover "neighbouring rights to excerpts from articles now indexed in its general search engine and its news search engine (Google News), as well as the publication of content in its entirety".

The News Showcase licensing programme, announced last month, will feature 'story panels' - as opposed to snippets, Christopher said.

Morel said that duplication of the agreement in "many other countries" meant the cost "could be quite high for Google".

A comment from Le Monde suggests that all French publishers may now "want to negotiate with Facebook, Snap or Twitter".

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