European publishers slam Google copyright deal
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European publishers slam Google copyright deal

Publishers in Europe have expressed their anger at a deal done between Google and French publishers last week to settle a row about copyright, remuneration and article snippets

Earlier this month Google chairman Eric Schmidt said the internet company has agreed two new initiatives with the French government. The first will see the US internet company create a €60 million “Digital Publishing Innovation Fund” to help support what he called “transformative digital publishing initiatives” for French readers. The second will see Google help French publishers increase their online revenues using its advertising technology.

The deal, signed by Schmidt and President Hollande, came after the French government had threatened to introduce legislation to force Google to pay for posting links to copyright owners’ content.

But this week members of the European Publishers Council said that publishers want to find longer-term, legally-based solutions to the problem of Google’s use of copyright material.

The Council’s executive director Angela Mills Wade said: “The type of deal arranged between Google and a group of French publishers does not address the continuing problem of unauthorised reuse and monetisation of content, and so does not provide the online press with the financial certainty or mechanisms for legal redress which it needs to build sustainable business models and ensure its continued investment in high-quality content.”

She went on to call for more countries to adopt proposals put forward by Germany: “The EPC is supporting its members in Germany and elsewhere who are holding fast and demanding laws in their countries that would allow publishers to charge aggregators and search engines for reproducing publishers’ content. The proposed German law, currently in draft form, would apply to any aggregator, not just Google, and would provide a legal basis to prohibit unauthorised use of publishers’ content.”

The Council also called on the European Commission to help restore competition to search and search advertising. Google is being investigated for allegedly manipulating its search services to direct users to its own services and reducing the visibility of competing websites.

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