A law was passed in Germany several weeks ago that would require search engines like Google to pay publishers to license content to include links and snippets in aggregation services like Google News. Google has been vocally opposing this law and others like it for quite some time, but nevertheless, it passed.
In light of this, Google has decided to, rather than pay publishers, make Google News opt-in, so they don't have to. This could mean less content diversity in the product, but Google appears confident that enough publishers will actually want to be included that it will rely on the opt-in scenario.
Google discussed the changes in a blog post. The post is in German, but here is a portion of it as translated by Google Translate:
In light of this development, and in light of the legal uncertainty that comes from the law, we have a new confirmation system introduced. With this we offer German publishers another way to tell us whether their contents (continued) to be displayed in Google News. This new confirmation statement is an addition to the existing technical possibilities for publishers to determine for themselves whether their contents to be displayed in our services - or not. Such tools such as robots.txt be recognized alongside Google and many other search engines and Internet services.
In all other countries, we will maintain in force, proven process: if a publisher makes its content available on the net, they are included in Google News. If publishers do not wish to be included in Google News, you can use a variety of technical options (robots.txt, meta tags) use to prevent indexing by Google - or simply tell us that their content will not be recorded. This is the best way to ensure that a wide variety of publishing votes are represented in our service -., Not just those who have the administrative resources and the time for such processes the digital future presents many industries with new challenges and opportunities. The news industry is one of them. We have always made it clear during the discussions on the related right that we want to continue working with publishers together on solutions.
The law can be found here (in German).
Google has taken different approaches to working with publishers in other countries. In Belgium, for example, Google reached an agreement with publishers where Google advertises its services on publishers' media, and publishers "optimize their use of AdWords". Google said it would also work with Belgian French-language publishers to help increase publishers' revenu, collaborating on ways to make money with paywalls and subscriptions, and with AdSense and Google's ad exchange.
Earlier this year, in France, Google agreed create a €60 million fund called the DIgital Publishing Innovation Fund to “help support transformative digital publishing initiatives for French readers.” Google said it wouldl also “deepen” its partnership with French publishers to help increase their online revenues using Google’s ad technology.