Alphabet Inc’s Google will now pay partnered news publishers in three countries directly to license their content, in a change of tack for the internet giant.
The company said Thursday that it would introduce a licensing program that pays publishers for “high-quality content” to be posted on a new service expected to launch later this year. The service will launch on Google’s News and Discover platforms.
It will initially include local and national news publications, such as Germany’s Der Spiegel, Australia’s InQueensland and InDaily, and Brazil’s Diarios Associados. Google said that, where available, it would also offer to pay for free access to paywalled articles on news sites.
“We are currently engaged in discussions with many more partners and plan to sign more in the coming months,” Brad Bender, Google News’ vice president of product management, said in a blog post Thursday.
The move follows calls from antitrust regulators in France and Australia for Google to pay for news content. It marks a change of direction from Google, which has for years fended off demands from news outlets to pay for distributing their work.
France’s Autorite de la Concurrence ruled in April that Google must pay publishing firms and news agencies for reusing their content. Meanwhile, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has been tasked by Canberra with forming a mandatory code that sees digital platforms share revenue generated from news.
Such regulatory pressure has heightened during a time when news publishers are grappling with a steep decline in advertising expenditure due to the coronavirus crisis.
It also forms part of a larger battle between tech companies and media firms over copyright.
The EU last year passed reforms to its copyright laws that would give news organizations more protections to ensure they’re paid fairly for the distribution of their stories online.
The rule change put considerable pressure on news aggregation services like Google News, as they would need to pay publishers for headlines and snippets of stories. Tech groups had lobbied heavily against the reforms.
“Alongside other companies, governments and civic society organizations, we’re committed to playing our part to support news businesses,” said Bender. “Today’s undertaking exemplifies that, and we look forward to what we can all achieve together.”