Earlier this month Google reached a compromise with the French government following the country's controversial “link-tax” proposition.
In October last year, the French government drafted a proposal stating that the US search giant would have to license French newspaper content. The idea behind this was that taxing Google to index and link to French news and magazine sites would help support the country's dwindling newspaper industry.
Google's response to the proposal was more than a simple “non”, of course. In fact, it responded by threatening to remove all French newspaper sites from its index should the French government go ahead with the legislation. It stated that the proposal would “threaten the company's very existence”. The move would mean that French newspaper publishers would collectively lose an estimated 4 billion clicks each month.
Despite France's (and the rest of Europe's, it seems) history of quarrels and tense relationships with Google, Fleur Pellerin, France's Minister of Digital Economy and Innovation insisted that France is not an anti-Google country but did want to negotiate the situation.
In February, an agreement was finally reached and sealed between Google's Eric Schmidt and President of France, Francois Holland. The compromise comes in the form of a 60 million Euro “Digital Publishing Innovation Fund” to help support publishers with digital media projects. Google also pledged to help publishers use its own digital advertising services such as AdSense, AdMob and Ad Exchange.
Eric Schmidt stated on the Google Official Blog that the aim is to: “...deepen our partnership with French publishers to help increase their online revenues using our advertising technology”.
There have been mixed reactions to this proposal, in France and the rest of the world. Some believe this was simply a smart move by Google to avoid what could have been an expensive legal case, should the French government have stuck to their guns and pushed forward with their threat. If so, it's a smart move that will inevitably see Google's pockets expand considerably.
Another stance is that the French government was asking too much in the first place. Surely, the fact that Google actually lists French publishers in its index is already providing a service to them, by directing traffic to their sites? Some say Google was actually too “soft” and should have insisted on removing the publishers from its index if the lawsuit went ahead.
What do you think about Google's response to the French proposal? Let us know your thoughts on the recently signed agreement!