Google will pay some news publishers to license content

The Google logo is seen on January 8, 2020 at the 2020 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada.


Google will now pay news publishers directly to license their content, in a change of course for the Internet giant.

The company said Thursday it would introduce a licensing program that pays publishers for “high-quality content” to be published in a new service that will launch later this year. The service will be launched on Google News and Discover platforms.

It will initially include local and national news publications such as Der Spiegel from Germany, InQueensland from Australia and InDaily, and Associated Diaries from Brazil. Google said that, when available, it would also offer to pay for free access to paid articles on news sites.

“We are currently in talks with many more partners and plan to sign more in the coming months,” said Brad Bender, vice president of product management for Google News, in a blog post on Thursday.

The move follows calls from antitrust regulators in France and Australia for Google to pay for news content. It marks a change of direction for Google, which for years has avoided the demands of the media to pay for the distribution of its work.

The Autorite de la Concurrence de France ruled in April that Google must pay publishers and news agencies for reuse of its content. Meanwhile, Canberra has tasked the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission with forming a mandatory code that allows digital platforms to share the revenue generated by the news.

Such regulatory pressure has increased during a time when news publishers are grappling with a sharp decline in advertising spending due to the coronavirus crisis.

It is also part of a larger battle between tech companies and media companies over copyright.

Last year, the EU passed reforms to its copyright laws that would give news organizations more protections to ensure they are paid fairly for the distribution of their stories online.

The rule change put considerable pressure on news aggregation services like Google News, as they would have to pay publishers for headlines and snippets of stories. Technology groups had lobbied heavily against the reforms.

“Together with other companies, governments and civil society organizations, we are committed to playing our part in supporting news companies,” said Bender. “Today’s company exemplifies that, and we look forward to what we can all achieve together.”