Paris (AFP)

Google signed a framework agreement paving the way for the remuneration of the French daily press under "neighboring rights", this new right similar to copyright created in 2019 and which gave rise to heated negotiations between the publishers of press and the Internet giant.

This agreement was signed between Google and the Alliance of General Information Press (Apig), the main professional organization of the French press, which notably represents national and regional dailies.

"The General Information Press Alliance and Google today announce an agreement on the remuneration of neighboring rights under French law," the two parties announced in a statement released on Thursday, stressing that it is 'was "the culmination of many months of negotiations within the framework set by the Competition Authority".

This agreement "sets the framework within which Google will negotiate individual licensing agreements with members" of Apig, for recognized publications of "political and general information", explain the signatories.

These license agreements "will cover neighboring rights, and will also give newspapers access to News Showcase", this program recently launched by Google in which it pays media for a selection of enriched content.

It remains to be seen how much this windfall could represent for the French press, the financial data of the agreement being confidential.

Contacted by AFP, Google and Apig did not provide any details on this subject.

- "New perspectives" for the press -

According to the press release, the remuneration of publishers will be calculated individually and "based on criteria such as, for example, the contribution to political and general information, the daily volume of publications or even the monthly Internet audience".

For Pierre Louette, CEO of Les Echos - Le Parisien and president of Apig, this agreement "marks the effective recognition of the neighboring right of press publishers and the start of their remuneration by digital platforms for the use of their publications. online".

For his part, the boss of Google France Sébastien Missoffe sees it as confirmation of a "commitment" from the group which opens up to press editors "new perspectives".

Apig and Google have come a long way: the French press accused Google at the end of 2019 of flouting neighboring rights, this right similar to copyright, created by a European directive and supposed to lead to a better sharing of digital revenues for the benefit newspaper publishers and news agencies.

This new right barely entered into force in France, Google had decided unilaterally to index less well the newspapers which would refuse to let it continue to exploit their contents (titles, extracts of articles and thumbnails) for free in its search results.

The French press, having little choice, had complied but immediately seizing the Competition Authority, which in April 2020 had ordered Google to negotiate "in good faith" with publishers, a decision then confirmed by the Court call from Paris.

It was within this framework of negotiations that Google said in October 2020 that it was close to a framework agreement with Apig, then announced in November that it had concluded the first individual agreements with certain press titles (Le Monde, Le Figaro , Release and Express).

This framework agreement, for a period of three years, does not cover all the French written press, in particular the press agencies including Agence France-Presse, still in full negotiations with Google, while discussions with the Syndicate of publishers magazine press (SEPM) and the American group have so far come to an end.

"I am delighted that the recognition of neighboring rights is materializing for the first time in Europe and we are now waiting for the first step, which is always the most difficult, to be taken, for Google to continue its momentum and to extend this recognition to others eligible actors, including news agencies, "commented the CEO of Agence France-Presse, Fabrice Fries.

© 2021 AFP