Google poised to strike deal to pay French publishers for their news

The logo of Google is seen on a building at la Defense business and financial district in Courbevoie near Paris, France, September 1, 2020. REUTERS/Charles Platiau

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Alphabet’s Google is set to reach a deal to pay French publishers for their news, the U.S. tech giant said on Wednesday, the latest move to placate media groups and head off regulators siding with publishers seeking a level playing field.

Last week, the world’s most popular internet search engine said it planned to pay $1 billion to publishers globally over the next three years for their news, starting with German and Brazilian media groups under a new product called News Showcase.

The deal with French publishers would come on the eve of a ruling by a French appeals court on a so-called neighbouring right enshrined in revamped EU copyright rules, which allows publishers to demand a fee from online platforms for showing news snippets.

“The Alliance de la Presse d’Information Générale (APIG) and Google have been working together for a year on the remuneration of neighboring rights under the French law. These discussions have evolved positively in recent weeks,” Google said in a statement.

It said a deal would include acceptance of the neighbouring right as well as the French groups’ participation in its News Showcase.

Pierre Louette, Groupe Les Echos CEO, who is negotiating for APIG, said: “The last few weeks have allowed us to clarify many points and confirm that Google accepts the principle of remuneration for our press titles.”

French publishers are among Google’s fiercest critics. In April, the French antitrust authority ordered the company to pay French publishing companies and news agencies for their content in response to complaints from the media groups.

Reporting by Foo Yun Chee, additional reporting by Mathieu Rosemain in Paris; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Elaine Hardcastle