Credits: Wikimedia Commons

Alphabet Inc.’s Google has signed individual agreements on copyright payments with French newspapers and magazines, setting a new example in the world of technology journalism. Signatories to the deal included top French dailies Le Monde, Le Figaro and Liberation, as well as magazines like L’Express, L’Obs and Courrier International.

In October last year, the U.S. company had said that it has set aside $1 billion for a three-year period to pay select media outlets to exhibit curated content on its news app. Financial specifics were not disclosed, but Google France chief Sebastien Missoffe said the criteria for payments would include daily publication volumes, monthly internet traffic, and “the publisher’s contribution to political and general information”.

Approaching the deal with the motto “no money for snippets”, the focus of the deal is a licensing system based on News Showcase, the latest product developed by Google to boost the news ecosystem. Publishers are not entirely convinced, but at least the money is there, and the model is promising. The app is available in several countries and has proved to be quite successful. It has greatly simplified the subscription process and is comparatively inexpensive for the publisher as Google keeps only 5% of the cut.

Over the past ten years, European publishers have been arguing that Google has copiously drained off their financial resources by seizing a substantial amount of the advertising that they used to own. While Google makes a lot of money by using their content which appears in their search results pages, the publishers do not receive any profits from it.

The European Union has been unable to act on complaints that Google unfairly displays publishers’ content as they have long argued that their journalism is what’s drawing users to those platforms. With the Covid-19 crisis hurting sales even further, various top French publications are expected to report huge losses this year.

On the other hand, Google has argued that besides encouraging millions of people to click through to media sites, it has provided millions of dollars to support media groups in other ways, including emergency funding during the Covid-19 crisis. On Thursday, Missoffe said that since 2013, Google had invested around $100 million in France’s media industry, to promote shifts to digital platforms.