Canada, Google strike deal to keep news in search results

An illuminated Google logo is seen inside an office building in Zurich

An illuminated Google logo is seen inside an office building in Zurich, Switzerland December 5, 2018. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/File Photo Acquire Licensing Rights

OTTAWA, Nov 29 (Reuters) – Canada and Google have reached a deal to keep news stories in search results and for the internet giant to pay C$100 million ($73.6 million) annually to news publishers in the country, a Canadian official said on Wednesday.

The deal resolves Alphabet-owned (GOOGL.O) Google’s concerns over Canada’s online news law that seeks to make large internet companies share advertising revenue with news publishers in the country.

“Following weeks of productive discussions, I am happy to announce that we have found a path forward with Google for the implementation of the Online News Act,” Heritage Minister Pascale St-Onge said in a statement.

Canada’s Online News Act, part of a global trend to make internet giants pay for news, passed in June and the government is finalizing rules that are expected to be released by a Dec. 19 deadline.

Google confirmed that Ottawa had committed to addressing its core issues and that news will continue to be available on its platforms in Canada.

Google had previously said it would block news on its platform, saying said Canada’s law was more stringent than the ones in Europe and Australia, and raised concerns about the company being exposed to potentially uncapped liability.

Meta Platforms (META.O), the other internet giant that is the target of the law, has already blocked news sharing on Facebook and Instagram over its concerns about the law.

St-Onge said the deal with Google shows that the new law works, and called on Facebook to explain its decision to block news sharing in Canada.

She added Canada would be able to reopen the agreement with Google in the future if there are better agreements reached anywhere else in the world.

Last month, Google reached an agreement to pay a group of German publishers 3.2 million euros ($3.5 million) a year for its publication of their news content.

In a statement, a Meta spokesperson said its decision was unchanged.

“Unlike search engines, we do not proactively pull news from the internet to place in our users’ feeds and we have long been clear that the only way we can reasonably comply with the Online News Act is by ending news availability for people in Canada,” the spokesperson said.

The legislation came after complaints from Canada’s media industry, which wants tighter regulation of tech companies to prevent them from elbowing news businesses out of the online advertising market.

As part of the agreement with Canada, Google will annually contribute C$100 million, indexed to inflation, to news businesses, and the company will have the option to work with a single collective to distribute the funds.

“It’s very good news,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters in Ottawa. “This is a deal, an agreement that is going to resonate around the world.”

Paul Deegan, the chief executive officer of industry body News Media Canada, welcomed the agreement and thanked the government for ensuring cash compensation for publishers.

“We commend Google for their good faith, socially responsible approach,” Deegan added in a statement.

The Canadian Broadcasting Corp broke the news of the deal earlier.

($1 = 1.3581 Canadian dollars)

($1 = 0.9114 euros)

Reporting by Ismail Shakil in Ottawa; Editing by Aurora Ellis

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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