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    France is trying to get Google to pay for links to their news articles

    Jimi Wikman

    France is trying to use an already confusing and illogical Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market to force Google to pay for links to news articles for french news papers. As expected Google has responded that they will simply remove the news snippets in question to avoid any license fee's. That did not sit well with France who are now trying to sue Google.

    To me it is amazing how these things keep popping up from countries like France, Germany and Spain. Anyone who understand Internet and how search engines work would see that asking a service provider to pay for providing service is backwards. For some reason this does not seem to resonate with certain people when dealing with copyright and especially media.

    As France now have taken the Directive to become law in France they somehow had the hubris to think that Google, or any search engine for that matter, would actually pay for doing the french news the favor of highlighting their content and drive traffic to them. Naturally Google followed this new law by simply removing the content that require legal fees. For some reason this apparently was surprising to the French, even if the Germans have already tried this and failed miserably.

    So what are they arguing about really? Well, it is the so called "rich links", or rich snippets where you will see a small image, the title of the article and a short text. In a blog post from Google they have responded with how they will handle this according to the new law in France.


    This has made the French cultural minister Franck Riester angry. For some reason he actually thought that Google would actually start paying for helping the media companies to get quality traffic to their sites. It is illogical in so many ways that I do not think he really understand what Google do or how Copyright works.

    If you hold copyright over something you should of course have the control of how others use your creative work, or even if they are allowed to. There is nothing strange about that. It is also in everyone's right to not use or reference that same creative work if I do not want to. That is how Copyright works.

    Google is a service provider who collect information about websites and create a database over those sites to make them searchable. This is a free service that anyone can use and as you know Google is not the only search engine you can use. Google make money by allowing advertisement on the search result pages.

    So what France now have done is that have made it illegal so show image and text previews in the rich snippets presented in search results. This is done by invoking the right to control Copyrighted material, which is well within their right. What they do not understand is that Google have the right to choose not to infringe on that same copyright by changing what they display in the results.

    For some reason France want to force Google to infringe on Copyrighted material so they can be fined for doing so. That is illogical as you are basically forcing criminal behavior by legislation. That is an act that by itself should be illegal if forced, but it seems that Franck Riester do not understand that very simple concept.

    We will see how this farce plays out in it's absurdity and I predict that the french media will suffer the same way as their German counterparts did previously. They had to make good with Google and give them permission to present the links without paying, which made that lawsuit pretty useless. I think the french will have the same experience and it's strange that they do not understand this from previous experiments like this.

    What do you think?

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