Google Settles With France: No ‘Link Tax,’ But €60 Million Media Fund

Google logoGoogle has avoided getting hit with a “link tax” in France by agreeing to create a €60 million “Digital Publishing Innovation Fund” to essentially help French media adapt to the online age.

The settlement, announced today in France by President Francois Hollande and Google’s Eric Schmidt — and announced on Google’s blog — ends several months of debate over France’s plan to charge Google for linking to French news content.

When the French law was first proposed, Google threatened to just stop linking to French newspaper websites, saying that the country’s publishers would miss out on four billion clicks per month — including one billion from Google News.

The two sides met in late October and appeared to both dig in their heels. President Hollande said he wanted to see an agreement in place by the end of the year — a deadline that was missed by a month.

The second part of today’s settlement, according to Google, is that the company will “deepen our partnership with French publishers to help increase their online revenues using our advertising technology.”

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


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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  • Takeshi Young

    Seems like they’re setting a dangerous precedent here. Why reward bad behavior?

  • Giacomo Pelagatti

    €60 million! That’s a lot of money for an AdWords coupon…

  • Troy Curfman

    Getting Slapped Sucks Don’t it!

  • Durant Imboden

    Bribery, or extortion?

  • Rodolfo Guluarte

    Great, so they will teach french publishers how to use adwords.

  • Alan

    Looks like it tis time for other countries to in on the act. Australia could do with a $60mill adwords voucher!

  • Igor Mateski

    I wonder how these 60M will be distributed to small company websites. But it’s good that Google won’t be getting the cream of the crop with other peoples’ content any more.

  • Sylvain Fouillaud

    As a French SEO, I have many things to say about this “media fund”.

    This fund is, as you said, officially here to help French newspaper to adapt to the Internet. Ok, great. But it’s been a while since they know how to deal with it, and particularly with Google.

    I mean, most of them can be found in Google News, most of them have an XML sitemap for images, videos, news, etc. Most of them have SEO optimized websites, even for local newspapers. But I really hope these ones are the ones who will mostly benefit of this fund.

    As you can imagine, most of the national newspapers have in-house SEOs and SEAs, not only one but mostly a dedicated team. By the way one of the biggest,, was known to hide links in their articles, one or two year ago. So I think they have already turned into the online world, and they don’t really need more money to work on it. I am really curious on how this fund is going to be used? If a “control plan” is going to be done by the government after distributing it?

    I totally agree with what Takeshi Young said, why reward a bad behavior? I mean, they wanted Google to pay them for displaying their articles in Google News but hey! How much traffic do they earn thanks to them?

    Sorry for my (maybe not so) bad English, but it have to be said, even if I certainly have forgotten a thing or two =)

  • MonopolizedSearch

    This is a prime example of collusion between government and Google. Just like in the USA, when the government goes after companies for wronging consumers, settlements are sought after to avoid lengthy court battles. Settlements basically stick a pacifier in the public’s mouth so they don’t cry. Meanwhile, a significant portion of the settlement is retained by the government for administrative purposes and they are free to disburse such funds in a way that they deem appropriate. In the end, those harmed by such actions typically get very little.

    The people of this world need to demand that their elected leaders get out of Google’s bed and represent the best interests of the public and their economy. Google’s entire business model is based on monetizing everyone elses works. Google’s recent actions with how they display images in image search, is a prime example of how Google is retaining as much traffic from our work as they can. Especially for media outlets, who employ writers, this media fund probably won’t make any substantial difference.

  • Patrick Slavenburg

    I think it’s brilliant. The key sentence here is:

    ” the company will “deepen our partnership with French publishers to help increase their online revenues using our advertising technology.””

    In other words: that digital $60 million fund just bought them a partnership with a bunch of French media companies that will make them both wealthier but I presume kicks out some competitor with alternative advertising technology. I wonder how many months it’d take to make that $60 million back from the extra partnership — keeping their normal search revenue completely intact.

  • Abdul Wahab

    Google is on its peal. It seems to me French Media get down in front of Google….. They threatened Google and later google settles with Mutual benefit (world thinks but in real just Google’s benefit)…….. Google is very intelligent. :-)

  • Matt Roney

    In one fell swoop, Google turns a potentially extremely expensive lawsuit into a state-sanctioned partnership with the French media.

    It really IS impressive.

  • keaner

    google should have just pulled all the links to the french. Let them come crying back when they have no traffic and no clients.

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