Google threatens to omit French media from search

If a proposed French law passes that would require search engines to pay for news articles, the Web giant says it would simply stop linking to the country's media sites.

Google and the French government are engaged in an on-going battle over news results displayed in Google searches.

The French government is proposing a law that would require search engines to pay for news articles if they wanted to include them in query results, according to global news agency AFP. And Google has said that rather than complying with the law, it will simply omit French media sites from search.

In a letter sent by Google to a handful of government offices this month, which was obtained by AFP, the search giant said it "cannot accept" the law's requirements and "as a consequence would be required to no longer reference French sites."

Google wrote that it "redirects 4 billion 'clicks' per month towards the Internet pages" of French media and that paying for news links would "threaten [Google's] very existence."

The crux of the French government's gripe is that it says Google is earning ad revenue by displaying news headlines along with a couple sentences from the article, according to The Verge, while news agencies are losing out on attracting advertisers because readers aren't clicking through to the stories. According to AFP, leading French newspaper publishers back the proposed law.

When contacted by CNET, a Google spokesperson said, "It's not a secret that we think a law like the one proposed in France and Germany would be very damaging to the Internet. We have said so publicly for three years."

Google is up to its neck with European legal claims on the way it does business. Most notably, an EU antitrust probe that is investigating Google's consolidation of its many services under one privacy policy. Regulators believe that the search giant hurts Internet competitors by driving more traffic to its own specialized services. Earlier this week the EU regulators announced that Google had four months to amend its privacy policy.

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