Google announced it is finally fully capitulating to demands from both the European Union and news media companies that tech giants should pay to display snippets of reporters’ work on sites or search results.
As originally reported by Reuters and later confirmed in a company blog post, Google announced it has signed deals with 300 publishers in Germany, Hungary, France, Austria, the Netherlands, and Ireland to license their content.
Sulina Connal, Google’s director of news and publishing partnerships, came into the position in October last year—which is around the time initial deals with certain news sites were being finalized. In the blog post, she wrote that the program only applies to displayed content that is more than a link or a few individual words from an article, but news snippets and thumb nails will cost the tech giant when they appear in Google search results for those companies who sign up.
Google also said it is creating additional tools that should let other media companies sign onto the service. The Extended News Preview Program allows publishers to enroll in the program and add their sites to the search console. Publishers are allowed to enroll in the program at any time.
Publishers have long complained about gatekeepers like Google and Facebook, saying that, in the current digital age, they have no choice but to display their content through their sites in order to generate traffic while losing out on advertising revenue.
In the past, Facebook has paid certain sites to display content, but it has not been even-handed with which sites they support. They have paid The New York Times and Washington Post as well as conspiracy hellhole sites like Breitbart. As explained in the recent Facebook Papers, (which you can learn more about through Gizmodo here) the social media monolith not only paid Breitbart for its content on the site, but actively aided the site by letting it skirt around its rules on posting bogus information.
Google did not place any explicit limits on which sites are allowed to apply for its ENP program other than what’s established by the EU’s laws. The change to Google’s search function comes a full three years after the EU passed its European Copyright Directive. The law, which was passed in 2019, requires companies which automatically aggregate news to pay publishers for any text that goes up on search engines using the vague metric of anything beyond “individual words or very short extracts.”
Australia passed a law similar to the EU’s last year, and now Canada is stepping up to the plate, with proposed legislation that will consider whether Google and Facebook needs to pay publications to display their work.
In the blog post, Connal said Google had announced last year that it would work with companies to pay for their news content. It started forming contracts with German news sites in November last year. 220 of the announced 300 sites given contracts are German, including Der Spiegel, Die Zeit, and Handelsblatt.
“As always, publishers continue to have full control over whether or not their content appears in Google Search and how that content can be previewed,” Connal wrote in the post.