Google prepared a note about a proposal by French lawmakers and backed by French news publsihers, which want search engines to license all of their content. Publishers want to be paid for the privilege of linking to their content. Obviously, this doesn't sit well with Google, and the company has threatened to stop linking to such sites.
Of course, the note is in French, but Google has provided it in its entirety here. On the company's European policy blog, Google's Director of Public Policy in France, Oliver Esper, says, "The web has led to an explosion of content creation, by both professional and citizen journalists. So it's not a secret that we think a law like the one proposed in France and Germany would be very damaging to the internet. We have said so publicly for three years."
"In order to shed light on the reasons that lead us to believe that this law is detrimental to French users, innovation on the Internet and ultimately to the news publishers themselves, we decided to post the note in its entirety," he says. "We have always been and remain committed to collaborate with French Publishers associations as they experiment and develop sustainable economic models on the Internet."
Regarding Germany, we discussed the proposed law in that country and the larger ramifications of such a law here. Of course, Google has battled similar criticism and threats from publishers here in the U.S. and abroad.
AFP reports: "France's new Socialist government, which is open to helping struggling media companies, warned Google that it should not threaten democratic governments."
Google is also having some issues with publishers in Brazil. There, publishers have gone so far as to pull out of Google News altogether. It will be interesting to see how long that lasts.
The Knight Center for Journalism In The Americas (via PaidContent) reports that all of the 154 newspapers that belong to the National Association of Newspapers in Brazil (ANJ), accounting for a whopping 90% of Brazil's newspaper circulation, have left Google News.
Google didn't budge on publisher requests to be paid, so now, Google apparently has a lot less Brazilian news sources in its system. Of course, that doesn't mean that Google users will necessarily have a hard time finding the content, as pulling out of Google News hardly keeps your content from being crawled by Google. In fact, Google's regular web results often come from news publishers, and with Google's increased emphasis on freshness in recent months, there's a good chance that brand new articles will show up for news-related queries.
Publishers who don't want to be crawled by Google at all, can keep the search engine from doing so with robots.txt, but publishers face losing a ton of traffic by doing so. Then, the question becomes, will users miss these sources enough to go directly to their sites and give them whatever compensation they may be seeking?
Browsing Google News for Brazil, it doesn't look like there is a shortage of available content for people to read.
Last month, Google celebrated the tenth anniversary of Google News, reporting that it is now available in 72 editions and 30 languages, and that it counted 50,000 publications among its news sources. I guess the number is slightly less now.