Ancillary copyright: French publishers file a complaint against Google


The French publishers want to enforce royalties from the search engine giant Google with a competition law complaint. As already announced at the end of October 2019, the association L'Alliance de la press d'information générale inter alia lodged a complaint with the national competition authority. The publishers throw Google according to a report by the news magazine L'Express before, the power protection law that came into force a good month ago "to step on one's feet", However, Google strictly adheres to the legal requirements in order not to have to pay royalties for the use of media content.

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France has implemented the Copyright Directive, which came into force in June 2019, as the first EU Member State. Since October 24, 2019, Internet services of any kind, not only search engines, may no longer publish the content of media beyond existing copyright regulations. Only the royalty-free usage remains allowed "single words or very short excerpts from a press release", Hyperlinks are also allowed provided they do not contain more than single words or very short excerpts. However, the directive does not require any compensation.

Google only shows headlines

At the end of September 2019, Google had announced that it would implement the requirements of the ancillary copyright law and only display the article headings in the search results. However, publishers have the ability to use targeted search engine instructions (robots meta tags) to control the display of content. "Press publishers can completely remove snippets, set the maximum length of snippets for their pages or the maximum size of thumbnails for their images, or exclude portions of a page from snippets.", it was said. However, Google rules out paying a fee if media allow longer snippets: "We do not pay for the links or previews contained in the search results."

The French media face the dilemma that they either give Google a free license or loss of traffic. The publishers would have the "Deadly choice" between "Plague or cholera"said Alliance President Jean-Michel Baylet, according to L'Express.

The German publishers, however, had failed with the attempt to compel Google with the help of competition law to a kind of compulsory license. The fact that publishers in France will succeed on the basis of the current legal situation may be doubted.

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