After Meeting With Eric Schmidt, France Stands By Threat To Write Law Forcing Google To Pay To Link To News Sites

google-g-logo-2012The French government is digging in its heels.

After a meeting today with Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt, French President Francois Hollande reiterated the government’s plans to create a new law to force Google to pay when it links to newspaper websites.

The spat has been going on for a few weeks, since the French government first proposed a law that would require search engines to pay to link to content.

After the original back and forth, plans were made for today’s meeting in Paris. As Reuters is reporting, President Hollande didn’t back down. The president reiterated that France would move ahead with the law if Google and French press organizations can’t reach a deal that would involve Google paying to link to them. He wants to see a deal in place by the end of the year.

Google quickly responded to the idea a couple weeks ago, saying such a law would threaten the company’s existence and saying it will simply stop linking to news sites if the law passed. We’ve reached out to see if the company has anything new to say after today’s meeting, but I suspect Google is also digging in its heels, too.

Related Topics: Channel: Industry | Google: Business Issues | Google: News | Google: Outside US | Legal: Regulation

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About The Author: is Editor-In-Chief of Search Engine Land. His news career includes time spent in TV, radio, and print journalism. His web career continues to include a small number of SEO and social media consulting clients, as well as regular speaking engagements at marketing events around the U.S. He recently launched a site dedicated to Google Glass called Glass Almanac and also blogs at Small Business Search Marketing. Matt can be found on Twitter at @MattMcGee and/or on Google Plus. You can read Matt's disclosures on his personal blog.

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  • Joshua

    where my comment? or you not accept france positive comments and protect google only???!!! If yes – i will post about it at other boards.

  • http://www.adigaskell.org/blog Adi

    This whole thing makes me speechless. I mean what are the French thinking? It’s like having a Yellow Pages where the publisher has to pay the businesses to appear in it. Hopefully Google will tell them where they can stick the free traffic they’ve been sending them for years.

  • Mon

    You don’t want to appear in Google, block the news site or story, end of.
    You want to appear in Google but want them to pay you for the privilege, yeah that’s not going to happen.

    I might be missing a step here, but this is reminds me of the whole Murdoch thing a couple of years ago in the UK. I would recommend the powers that be in France hire someone who can let them know how search engines and the internet as a whole works.

  • http://www.gobananas.com/ Sholto

    It is just such an odd thing to make a law about. If news organisations dont want to appear in search results, they can simply robots.txt google out of their site. If the french are really intent on this, why not test it on one news site and simply remove from google and then test the impact on their traffic and revenues. As we Brits know: the french can be very odd! Snails anyone?

  • http://www.facebook.com/stuartlogan2002 Stuart Logan

    I wonder how many of these news sites have Google AdWords on them… 50%? 90%? If so that is a huge portion Google is paying anyway.

  • http://www.facebook.com/christoph.cemper Christoph C. Cemper

    This is just as crazy as what the german government plans.
    News sites will simply disappear from Google.

    That means a new window of opportunity for webmasters and a threat to the user experience of Google.

  • def4

    It’s about time all the “free” and “open” BS gets beaten out of Google so they’ll be forced to act like adults.

  • roseberry

    Not exactly – In the yellow pages analogy you control your message and how it’s
    presented, with this that’s not true. Google determines exactly what and
    how and you have to agree to all or nothing.

    Google relies on reputable news organizations to improve it’s own News product. By crawling news content that is published by others, they are able to do things like tell which stories are more or less important and organize their news portals better (against which they serve ads). Without good news sources, Google’s product is worse and users don’t want to go there. They also take snippets of text and images from sites to display in their product, and this the publishers can’t control – in other words you can’t say to Google, yes index my content but don’t take my images and host and display, or don’t take snippets of my text and display out of context. Do publishers benefit from this by way of traffic – yes, and in some cases quite a lot. And i would agree that that should be enough, and if you like it stay in, if not you can control being out, but I don’t think this is quite as silly a debate as everyone makes it out to be – i think you have to take a hard look at exactly how Google is benefiting from being able to crawl and aggregate content from reputable sources and how it uses the data it gathers from that to make improvements to it’s own products. It’s not just “find page – list page in index,” if that’s all there was to it, I would agree that this is a silly debate.

  • Joshua

    yes, google need such lesson to understand what pets updates can be not only for webmasters!

  • Jose de Frias

    Eric failed to present a reasonable argument why Google should not pay to link for media content. Google does not research, investigate and produce the topics, but receives the highest benefits in terms of brand awareness, providing the most trustworthy viral topics by the second. A monthly fee to the most reputable content providers, currently in crisis & firing people, from the main beneficiary would seem reasonable to most.

    The argument “would threaten the company’s existence” is irrelevant. Or perhaps Google should “ease up”, be “tolerant” or “understanding” with their spam filters, because it threatens company’s existence?

    By all means, Google is free to stop linking to these reputable sites. These are,
    after all, some of the most trustworthy companies in France, and surely can take the hit. To be fair, this scenario would hurt mostly Google customers experience & satisfaction and reduce their brand value in France. Still, they are free to do so…

    And France is just the beginning you know; there is a very trong European Union consensus on this topic, and some could say that EU is very interesting for Google, in some countries with more than 75% market share, particularly in South Europe. Still, they are free to remove all European press organizations from their index if they wish to do so…

  • Matt McGee

    Your comment was flagged by Disqus as spam. You probably aren’t surprised by that, because comments from this IP on our site have come from people named “Joshua,” “Josh” and “John Brown” yet your IP address resolves to Czechoslovakia, which makes site owners assume you’re not posting with your real name.

    Further, your IP address is listed 232 times on the Stop Forum Spam website and is also listed on Project Honey Pot, another anti-forum spam website.

    You may want to try posting from a new IP in the future and using your real name (both here and on other sites) so that future comments aren’t automatically flagged as spam.

    In the meantime, we found your comment in the spam queue and it’s been processed to appear on the site. If you actually read our commenting guidelines — which are available via a link above all of these comments — you would know that we don’t moderate comments based on the opinions people share.

    Thanks,
    Matt

  • Joshua

    main idea here – we not need people make decision visiting our site based on google snippets (very small piece of scrapped information), google keywords (google often rank sites under incorrect keywords, it VERY common situation), show our reprinted article (in other site may be with more backlinks, but it copy!) in better position than our site or based on full size preview of our photo content. Also what is google consider good backlinks it big secret and it completely not transparent, but after last updates even 100% white hat sites tanked.

  • Joshua

    it vpn service ip, so i not sure who using it and why it in anti-forum spam db. I not like to post comments from my real name because you know what google it is.

  • http://www.tylerherrick.com Tyler Herrick

    The absurdity of paying to link to organic content is mind-boggling. What they are effectively saying is that they think Google is stealing their customers and revenue. As Sholto mentioned earlier, why not just use robots.txt to block Googlebot, if they think Google is such a problem? Let’s see how happy they are when Google isn’t giving them free traffic! I love Google’s response as well, we’ll just stop linking to French news sites. Who do you think will lose out in that situation? (Just wait for the news sites to go bankrupt, problem solved)

    As Jose de Frias mentioned, Google “does not research, investigate, and produce topics.” Well you are correct, but Google researched their algorithm, investigated various signals, and produces a list of the most-relevant sites to that query.

    It is not Google’s fault if a competitor has a “better story” than you and gets more visitors from Google because of it. Search engines don’t “owe” any website anything. You’re more than welcome to block the entire web and focus on offline-marketing as your strategy. But businesses don’t tend to forego online marketing, because they realize there are so many various ways for people to find your brand and turn into valuable customers.

    As Roseberry said previously, “Google determines exactly what and how and you have to agree to all or nothing.” Well that’s not entirely true. While yes, certain pieces of information are preferentially displayed (NAP), you have control over Title tags, rich snippets, sitelinks, descriptions, map directions, social sharing descriptions, etc…

    All in all, it seems like people want to “Have one’s cake and eat it too.” If you want people to find you, search engines need to know about you as well.

  • Jose de Frias

    Tyler, you flattered me, I do not work in any media institution nor have any financial interests in such companies. My competitor is injustice disguised as rationality.

    And there is no such thing as free traffic; surely you receive a compensation for your work to obtain “free traffic”? And I´m sure you deserve it too – no irony intended.

    This “magic” algorithm crawls content from reputable sources previously labeled and aggregate in such way that benefits mostly Google brand awareness. In this specific case, Authority, Reputability and Trustworthy of the information is already pre-established, in some cases long before Google News existence. I´m sure I simplify the algorithm; the question is How Much do I Simplify it?

    As for “Have one’s cake and eat it too.” No Tyler, What I am saying, the cake
    ingredients are not free. Keeping the cake analogy, let´s produce a cake – now
    let’s go together to your local groceries and compile ingredients for free… Tyler, may I suggest you go to the first shop while I wait in the car?

    Why don’t they just block Google if they don’t want to participate? Simple, this has to do with brand awareness, and the level of online network presence that Google managed since, no doubt, has benefit the overall citizens – without affecting the whole market health & fairness. Otherwise, it would be a monopoly…

    But, I would pay equally attention to benefit overall citizens as well as market health & fairness.

    Otherwise, one could dictate the rules of the game? The speech “they can block googlebot” is false, because Google online network presence is now secured against isolated cases – isolated cases will perish – no matter how right or wrong they would be in their actions.

    The only way you can regulate a market is…by laws. Please don’t call me communist for such a weird notion :)

  • 4u2discuss

    If search engines must pay news sites (in France) to be able to list their info, will this mean all news sites of any nature may not be listed with Google until Google pays them??

    Will this be expanded to include any site? ie will Google be forced to pay every site owner for the right to list their site in Google?

    Why should Google list these sites in their SERP’s (Search Engine Results Pages)

    These sites gain more than Google from the exposure of their information within the SERP’s

    I think these french fellas have smelt a crooked way to extort money from an honest company. I mean it is an expensive exercise to host all the indexed data and pay staff to write programs to sift through the data to find information that others want, then deliver this info for free?

    Google gets their income from people who advertise on the SERP’s (Search Engine Results Pages) if there are no FRENCH news results to display in GOOGLE what will the FRENCH GOVERNMENT BE ACCUSED OF ?

  • Jose de Frias

    4u2discuss, This has nothing to do with France, EU, or EUA companies. What is
    requested is fair – keep that in mind when we think economics
    & regulation.

    Nobody is forcing Google to pay. Moving foward, Google will be free not to accept. Google is free to list whatever content it feels relevant. You are free to request to be indexed and subject to Google Rules. And, you too, are free to choose your own online business system. Indeed, you should be free to choose.

    As for “if there are no FRENCH news results to display in GOOGLE what will the FRENCH GOVERNMENT BE ACCUSED OF ?”. Perhaps a App lover or a bookmarks addict? I don’t know :), nevertheless I´m sure it will be very funny. But you speak as if those companies would be offline …

    If you look just at Google keywords in French – you will see that:
    Le monde – a famous French newspaper is 4 090 000 – For the word “information” (the more appropriate word for news in French) is 368 000, “journal” (201 000) or “actualites” (201 000)…So it seems the word “information” should have a new synonym in the french dictionary.

    One could suggest that sites like Le Monde could growth faster independently of Google News. I don’t. I am strong believer in a healthy cooperation. My fear, is that no regulation could weaken their economic independency one by one – or is it?

    Fears that a law would cause a Free French, EU, or American press organizations death are greatly exaggerated. Or you think the French Press is suicidal? If you pay attention to the impartial article of Matt McGee states “As Reuters is reporting” or was it “As Google is reporting”? You see, in matters of Justice, Sir, Rationality is easily unarmed by Truth.

  • Joshua

    google indexing even disallowed/noindex links. So it real problem and google must be allowed to index website content by site owner, via gwt for example. Add sitemap to allow google to index this website. Otherwise it not will indexed totally.
    I hope it good way, it also will make google to appreciate small webmasters – not like now!

  • http://www.tylerherrick.com Tyler Herrick

    This is inherently not true about noindex. It’s the very objective of this directive. Google will drop results out of it’s index using the noindex directive. http://support.google.com/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=93710

    As far as sitemap indexing, Google *could* be unable to find certain URL’s if they are orphaned or dynamic, which is where a sitemap comes in place. Google can generally crawl and index an entire site without a sitemap file though.

    I work on small and medium sized businesses and I think Google WMT works well for their scale; especially with all the notifications that they are sending out today in an effort to be more transparent. Sure there is always more they could do for small local businesses, but I believe they have been moving towards that over the past two years.

  • http://www.tylerherrick.com Tyler Herrick

    Perhaps “indirectly-free” would be a better term to describe it. For an hour of my time, I can create a blog post that *could* bring visitors to my site. Once I’ve invested in writing that content, it will continue to attract visitors for the foreseeable future. It’s “indirectly-free” in the sense that I’m not paying Google to send me visitors, I only have to pay someone(or myself) to write the initial content.

    The “Authority, Reputability and Trustworthy of the information is already pre-established” do you mean certain french news sites? How does one determine if you get categorized as a news site? Can the freelance reporter who writes all his/her articles for their own website be categorized as a new site? Do satirical sites like “The Onion” get credited as a news site? A super-simple search for “news” on google.fr from pages in France, results in “About 344,000,000 results” (Admittedly, I don’t know the actual number of news companies) Where does it end?

    It’s better to have a completely unbiased algorithm that doesn’t give exceptions. That way, it is as fair as it can be. If Google *had* to pay news sites every time a visitor clicked through to their site, it would be completely manipulatable. Dishonest news sites could simply make a script that would click through results (doable in 5min) and generate money for the company. How do you determine if a visitor is a robot or a real person?

    You can’t have a monopoly in search engines, from a perspective of US law. The barriers to entering the market were the same for Google as they are for any other startup. Anyone can assimilate this publicly posted information and choose to display it as they wish. A different competitor is only a click away.

    Jose de Frias, I’m not entirely sure I follow your analogy, so please let me know if I’m misinterpreting how I think it is: Anyone can start a business baking cakes, but if they really want to get larger exposure for their brand of cakes they should put their cakes in supermarkets, so that more people see them and potentially buy them. In this situation, the supermarket would have to pay the baker every time a customer bought one of the baker’s cakes. How does that seem right?

  • Joshua

    i right now looking on opposite live example in google results. NoFollow in robots.txt but pages indexed (without description but here is title & url).

    Also I not talked anything about sitemap type (dynamic or static/etc, it just about idea what google must be allowed by site webmaster to index this website. It must not happen by default like right now. It can be done by adding sitemap into gwt.

    It will help google to prevent such situations as in France and we can be sure what google indexing only allowed content. Also it helps google to have some respect for small/medium webmasters.

    What about G-WMT, it very very basic (even bing provides more features and have backlinks explorer) and provides only very limited information. I not think what google doing anything about real transparency, at current days everything is only about commercialization.

    That emd/panda/penguin updates show us very different things from matt cutts tell us about ‘best user experience’ & ‘low quality’. It looks not true when ads above fold at google, top5 cheat ads, poor vanilla serp, only big brands, wikipedia & youtube under every query (in even adult searches), etc.

  • http://www.tylerherrick.com Tyler Herrick

    If you’re talking about what Google should and should not index, then you should be talking about robots.txt. Your live example could be due to technical site problems if it’s still in the index, or it may not have dropped out yet across all the data centers. Also, don’t confuse noindex and nofollow. A page can be nofollowed or blocked and still be in the index if something else links to it.

    Google is attempting to be more transparent: http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2012/07/new-notifications-about-inbound-links.html
    http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2012/07/new-crawl-error-alerts-from-webmaster.html
    http://support.google.com/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=1716747
    http://support.google.com/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=35738

    EMD/Panda/Penguin has nothing to do with Google’s SERP layout or monetization model. Keep in mind that businesses are paying Google AND millions of site operators to host their ads. I’m not sure what a top5 cheat ad is. Google and other search engines only have so much space to show results, not everyone can be in the #1 spot. We could go point by point after hundreds of factors, but I think we may be digressing from the original topic.

  • Jose de Frias

    “Indirectly-free”, as you wish… So free traffic is an illusion – Good, We all agree.

    I suspect you have no difficulty to follow me in any subject. Still, my cake point is this: The ingredients are not inherently free. If the supplier agrees to offer at no costs, than free it will be. If the supplier requests not be free, then free it is not.

    You are free to choose your business model. And Google is free to accept it or not. And vice versa.

    How can this be confusing? Google Shopping requires e-commerce companies to pay to be included in shopping results. With That, you are not confused…The reverse situation puzzles you…So it is not the model, but the agents? Now, I´m confused…

    Still, you want to lead me to the search engine algorithm discussion, no doubt, an arena you are most comfortable:). Very well, in a unbiased system, spam does not exist in top positions, nor does exist a small army of judges dredd to prevent spam…A ” completely unbiased algorithm that doesn’t give exceptions.”…Sir, honestly…

    In your cake scenario you choose the supermarket as an analogy for Google… Really? Before you compromise to that analogy, I would urge you to read more about legislation that needed to be changed, reformulated, created to avoid unfair situations, usually done by the bigger agents.

    Compare Google as a Supermarket… Will not help your case against regulamentation. In this specific subject, as in others, laws are never immutable.

  • 4u2discuss

    Jose de Frias There is paid inclusion in the advertising side bar where only those who pay Google are listed. The main results are called “ORGANIC” and are there at no direct cost to any site owner. Google has taken great care and many millions of Machine hours to crawl the web and index all pages that their robots could find. These sites are then analyzed for many different reasons and the results of the analysis stored for later research and used to determine a link between the searchers request and the best possible match according to Google’s estimate of what the searcher really intended to find. If Google and other search engines were to pay each site owner a fee for them to be listed, then this option of free search results would not be viable, and new entrants would not be able to enter the search results business. Google indexes hundreds of millions of sites, and even just one US dollar per site per year will put search results out of the reach of the average person.

    This legislation will ensure that no search engine will be able to list sites for free and users would be forced to pay large sums of money for search results that are currently free.

  • Jose de Frias

    4u2discuss I´m a busy man :) – Jokes apart, I want you to know do not take for granted the time you take. I believe, the topic has been properly discussed, don’t you agree? I will not change my path, nor do I want to impose my opinion on you. We agree to disagree.

    Is quite late, so my final notes – let me see… “There is paid inclusion in the advertising side bar” Good, so there is still space for “Content Sponsored By”.

    “not direct cost”. Cost is a cost. For example, taxation is taxation, whether be IRS (Direct) or VAT (Indirect) – does not change the fact it is taxation. There is a cost to work, so inherently free it is not – Only if supplier agrees to do so.

    “ORGANIC”… Organic means it comes naturally from one organism – Google does not produce the content results – just the Prioritization.

    “Google has taken great care and many millions of Machine hours to crawl the web and index all pages that their robots could find…”

    Indeed it does. Is it for humanitarian reasons? It does for its own profit. Rest assured, that activity will carry on being very profitable, but also to more agents involved.

    “This legislation will ensure that no search engine will be able to list sites for free” – I´m sorry where to you get that? Show me that proposed law under consideration …Of course, you are drawing a false scenario to lead to the consequence that you want to establish:

    “Users would be forced to pay large sums of money for search results that are currently free.” Ah, the consequence :)

    So the current Google Model based of free exploration of Webmasters and Content Providers – Without it, Google Revenue Model cannot exist? That’s the point you are trying to make?

    Rest assured, if Google would ever conceive that the user would paid “large sums” to users; other agents would fill the space of free search engine users. Such is the nature of a multi-color free market pie chart. And, 4u2discuss, multi-color pie chart, means you too…

    I wish you all the best, and a Good Weekend :)

  • Jose de Frias

    Arthur G.,

    I Salute Your Wisdom :) – Have a Good Weekend Sir.

  • 4u2discuss

    Jose You make some good points, but the issues are cost related to the search engine companies that currently do not exist. Currently Seache engines do not pay site owners for the right to list their information. In my humble opinion site owners should pay search engines for the privilege of having their site listed in a search engine, as the search engine has considerable costs in hardware and software as well as staff to operate the hardware and engineer the software.

    The fact that the French government wants search engines to pay site owners for the right list their information is in my opinion a very stupid and counter productive measure. If I were a search engine I would say “enjoy the loneliness” and remove all French pages from my directories leaving a note to the search community that this is too expensive and can not be sustained economically, leaving a contact email address of the french government on the page with a request to mail them for any french info.

  • 4u2discuss

    What have you got to hide? are you practicing BH SEO (Black Hat Search Engine Optimisation) or are you taking part in criminal activity?

    Unfortunately there is vast amounts of BH SEO and many criminals in todays business world. Like at the Olympic games, there can be only one winner, so each search term can only have one page at the top of the SERP’s (Search Engine Results Pages)

    Getting there is hard work, and many cheat on the way. When Google (or nay other search engine) eliminates the cheats there is a lot of noise from the cheaters associations.

    So write good content, ensure you do what the SE (Search Engine) recommend for SEO and good luck to those who make it to the number one position in any search engine, they deserve to be there even if they cheated some how.

    But those who cheated and were caught out then BANNED from all future events should not complain…They enjoyed their fruits of their labor untill the SEA (Search Engine Algorithm) caught up with their cheating ways.

  • 4u2discuss

    Joshua I think this french law sucks, and will cause lots of trouble in many places.

    back to other issues in your post above…

    There are many factors involved in SEO and the mathematics involved in the SEA’s (Search Engine Algorithms) is very complicated and totally unbiased.

    Inbound links count a lot more than what you believe, but they must come from different sites, different hosted IP’s and be included on different dates. Including too many new links on the same day (even same week) from the same IP will cause your page to tank.

    Use keywords Meta tag as well as others suggested by meta tag expert from dark street soft ware… it helps to sort out that Google includes snipets you want by taking them from the title / description META tag in head section

  • 4u2discuss

    What is GWT ? content by site owner, via gwt for example

    Smaller web master needs to work harder as he has

    ***less budget,

    ***less social media signals,
    *** less SEO input

    Smaller web masters are doing very well for many key words just look…

  • 4u2discuss

    What is GOOGLE WMT ?

  • 4u2discuss

    This is perhaps just a way of ensuring that people do not get news?

    if they (the public) do not find the news in a search engine where will they find it?

    Censorship by proxy?

    IF THEY (the government) CAN NOT CENSOR THE NEWS THEMSELVES, GET OTHERS TO DO THEIR DIRTY WORK!!!

  • Joshua

    gwt = google webmaster tools.

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