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Google to Ban French Newspapers

19 October 2012 2,840 views No Comment

In response to a new French law that will charge search engines for each result it lists, Google is threatening to remove all French articles from the world’s largest search engine.

French Culture Minister, Aurelie Filippetti, is pushing for a new law at the behest of French newspaper publishers that would charge the search engines for each and every result. Google is furious, and has written to the French government saying that if the law goes through it will remove all French articles from its search engine.

French newspapers have seen their sales declining, along with their profits, as more and more people turn to the Internet for their news. The French newspapers have been complaining to the government that it is not fair Google is allowed to make profit from searches for news. They claim that merely the fact people are searching for news means that they should automatically get paid.

As usual they want to have their cake and eat it. They obviously do not object to Google using their web pages in their search results. Any web site can put a robots.txt text file on the main page of their web site and Google will immediately cease to crawl that web site.

In fact a quick look at the French newspaper sites reveals:

  • Le Figaro – even embeds a Google authentication code as well as ordering Google to index and crawl its site
  • Le Monde – also orders Google to index and crawl its site
  • L’Express – not only orders Google to index and crawl, but allows Google to keep a historical copy

So if the newspapers object so much to appearing in Google search results, why the hypocrisy in trying so hard to get into their search engine? Perhaps something to do with the 4 billion clicks per month that Google send to their web sites?

Google claims the new law would be a threat to its very existence. This is true. The company makes money by placing adverts by its search results. If the law obliged the company to pass this money onto the web sites listed in the search results there would be no more Google. The company writes in a letter to the French government that if a taxi driver drops a passenger off at a restaurant, the taxi would not then be expected to hand over his fare to the restaurant owner.

The French minister claims to be shocked by the behaviour of Google and states that threats are no way to approach a free democratic government. Marc Feuillée, director of Le Figaro, says he is ‘astounded’ by Google’s threats and that he is now obliged to consider legal action against the giant search firm.

The new French law will not only affect large search firms. Anybody caught linking to a web site without compensating the owner will be liable for a fine up to €300,000.

A similar law was passed in Belgium last year, and Belgian newspapers are now no longer listed by the Google news services though an agreement was reached where they are now listed in the web search.

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