NME Applauds French Competition Regulator Action On Google

News Media Europe has applauded the French competition regulator’s approach to establishing a framework for Google to pay publishers for content, saying that other European countries should “take inspiration” from the process.  

France was the first country in the European Union to transpose the publisher’s right, which is designed to strengthen publishers’ ability to negotiate with the platforms, after the European Parliament vote to adopt the EU Copyright Directive in 2019.  

But NME said delays in transposing the publisher’s right in other jurisdictions had started a “race to the bottom across Europe.”

NME said: “For publishers already approached by Google, this delay in transposition has the effect of depriving them of a statutory right to control and remuneration, and therefore of significant bargaining power, since they are neither in full knowledge of their rights nor equipped with legal instruments to enforce them.

“In several Member States, publishers are under pressure by Google to rapidly conclude News Showcase agreements, even where the law has not yet been transposed. Based on a “divideand-conquer” approach, Google arbitrarily hand-picks its contractual partners, and in doing so privileges bilateral talks and proposes agreements only to a limited selection of publishers in an effort to undermine a collective approach by publishers.

“In addition, Google proposes agreements to publishers exclusively based on their participation in its News Showcase product, whereas compliance with copyright law has little to no bearing in shaping the conclusion of agreements. It is therefore desirable that a renegotiation of such agreements takes place when the law comes into force, on the basis of the neighbouring right.”

In France, Google has been locked in negotiations with the French competition regulator conducting a market test on commitments proposed by Google to remunerate French press publishers for their content.

Responding to the market test NME, which counts the News Media Association among its members, said the proposed commitments “seem insufficient to address competition concerns” and offered a series of recommendations on how they could be improved.

“As the Copyright Directive transposition is rolled out across Europe, the pace of negotiations between press publishers and platforms will accelerate,” NME said.

“To conclude, European publishers applaud the French consultation procedure and would encourage European governments to take inspiration from this process which takes the view of all the interested parties in account instead of letting Google dictate the terms of the remuneration agreements.”