Author Archives: Sulina Connal

Supporting journalism in Europe

When people searched for the “Twin Towers” in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, access to online news was unreliable. Websites crashed as people tried to keep up with the rapidly-developing story and breaking news couldn’t immediately be found. To make it easier for people to find multiple points of view about the same story, Google News was built to better display, group and sort links to news stories from publishers from around the world. Today, Google News turns 20.

The world has changed a lot in the past 20 years — now anyone with an internet connection has the same access to information as professors and PhD students. The way people learn and seek information has changed as a result. This has led to huge debate about the relationship between platforms like Google and publishers who are navigating this changing world.

With the growth of the internet changing how newspapers are funded, and how people find news, publishers have transformed their business models. Both legacy newspapers and new digital-first companies aresucceeding online by turning to new ways for distribution, analytics, advertising andsubscriptions. Some publishers arereporting record revenues and hiring new journalists. New types of publishers are also emerging, increasing the diversity of information online. Traditional newspaper funding from classified adverts hasshifted online, mainly to so-called "pure plays" that are, or were, formerly owned by newspaper groups.

This commercial success is a result, primarily, of innovation from publishers. Google in turn has sought to partner with publishers by building products like Google News that help people better understand and find news and send valuable traffic to publishers. Each month, people click through from Google Search and Google News to publishers' websites more than 24 billion times around the world. This traffic increases publishers’ readership, builds trust with readers and earns them money through advertising and subscriptions. European publishers are making millions of Euros a year from using our advertising tools.

Beyond Search and advertising, we’re investing in other ways to support journalism - whether it’s funding innovation, training newsrooms in digital skills or developing products like subscription tools, as part of the Google News Initiative. We are also directly paying for content from more than 750 publications in Europe through our licensing product, Google News Showcase.

Alongside these efforts, we have been negotiating with news publishers to license content under the European Copyright Directive, which EU countries are in the process of implementing into national law. So far we have agreements which cover more than 650 publications and we look forward to concluding many more.

And where there have been disputes with publishers in the past, we are making progress to find solutions. This week, after many months of complex negotiations, the French Competition Authority approved our commitments, which will govern the way our negotiations with publishers will work. In Spain, after an almost eight-year hiatus, we are bringing Google News back to Spain. This is thanks to an updated copyright law allowing Spanish media outlets – big and small – to make their own decisions about how their content can be discovered. The removal of Google News in 2014 led to a reduction in both news consumption in Spain and traffic to news sites, especially impacting smaller publishers, so we hope this will do even more to support the Spanish ecosystem.

Creating the right framework for platforms and publishers to work together is fundamental to the future success and sustainability of journalism. Without innovation, publishers will miss the opportunity to reach their readers who are using digital tools to find the information they need.

After all, access to information should not be restricted to PhD students or those in privileged positions. And that’s where technology and policymakers can help journalism reach people wherever they are.

Google licenses content from news publishers under the EU copyright Directive

For many years, Google has helped people find information by linking to news and other websites, and supported publishers and journalists through products, advertising technology and funding. Over the past year, we have also launched a licensing programme called Google News Showcase, working with more than 750 publications across Europe.

Alongside these efforts, we have been negotiating with news publishers to license content under the European Copyright Directive, which EU countries are in the process of implementing into national law. So far, we have agreements that cover more than 300 national, local and specialist news publications in Germany, Hungary, France, Austria, the Netherlands and Ireland, with many more discussions ongoing.

We are now announcing the launch of a new tool to make offers to thousands more news publishers, starting in Germany and Hungary, and rolling out to other EU countries over the coming months.

How it works

The Directive allows search engines like Google to freely link to, and use “very short extracts” of press publishers' content. The law also creates new rights for publishers when longer previews of their content are used online - but without defining what exactly a short extract or a longer preview is.

Despite this uncertainty, we announced last year that we will pay news publishers for content which goes beyond links and short extracts, as we are already doing in countries such as Germany.

Through this new tool, which will be available via the Search Console, publishers will be offered an Extended News Preview (ENP) agreement with Google for this content. This will include information about what the offer is for, how to sign up and how to provide feedback.

All offers are based on consistent criteria which respect the law and existing copyright guidance, including how often a news website is displayed and how much ad revenue is generated on pages that also display previews of news content.

As always, publishers continue to have full control over whether or not their content appears in Google Search and how that content can be previewed. Publishers can change their preferences and enroll in the ENP program at any time.

Alongside our negotiations, we will continue to invest in products and programs to provide even more support for journalism in Europe and around the world. We recently announced the Innovation Challenge for Europe and the Google News Initiative Subscriptions Academy which provides publishers with an intense 8-month program focused on digital growth. We look forward to working with publishers and journalists on all these efforts in the coming months, building on our long track record of support for journalism.

Google’s approach to Europe’s Copyright Law

Countries in the European Union are currently in the process of implementing the European Copyright Directive, which includes Article 15 or the “neighboring right”, into national law. Developed and debated over many years, the Directive gives new rights to news publishers online while ensuring that consumers can continue to freely access information through online platforms. As countries implement this new law, we have started negotiations with news publishers to license content under these new rights.

The Directive provides two important guiding principles. On the one hand, people and platforms can continue to link to, and include, very short extracts of publishers’ content (referred to as the snippet exemption or snippet exception in Germany). At the same time, the law creates new rights for news publishers when extended previews of their work are used online.

While the law in most countries does not define the scope of protected content, we have already started discussions with hundreds of news publishers across countries including Germany, Hungary, France, Denmark and the Netherlands where the law is now in effect. As part of this process, we are making offers for Extended News Previews, to cover the display of content from news publishers that goes beyond links and short extracts. Where possible, these offers take into account a publication’s readership, the “journalistic nature” of press publications (meaning the focus a publication has on producing journalism compared to other content) and editorial investment.

Many Member States are still in the process of implementation and it will take some time to come to agreements with news publishers that reflect national laws and the Directive itself, and we are taking on board feedback from our early discussions. Google is one of the world’s biggest financial supporters of journalism and our products and services create significant value for publishers through traffic, advertising technology and funding. At the same time, we don’t show ads — or make money — on the vast majority of searches and we don’t run ads on Google News. And, as always, publishers have full control over whether or not their content shows up in Search and how much of that content they want to be used in a preview.

Alongside these discussions, we will continue to invest in products and programs to provide even more support for journalism. Google News Showcase is another example of Google's financial support to the news industry: more than 1000 publications are signed up around the world and more than half of those are in Europe, including in Italy, Czechia, Ireland and Germany.

We look forward to working with publishers and journalists on all these efforts in the coming months, building on our long track record of support for journalism.