In the end, it seems that the giant has yielded: after months of controversy and legal battles – especially in France, where back in April the Antitrust had established the obligation to recognize copyright – Google has launched a project of collaboration with publishers to recognize their payment for “quality” contents such as textual news, photos and videos used in the mobile app and in the News section.

Google will pay publishers for news

The announcement comes from Brad Bender, VP Product Management of Google News, who from the official blog pages of the US company describes the new initiative, a “licensing program to support the news industry”.

In extreme summary, Google will grant publishers a payment for “high-quality contents” that is part of a “new news experience that will be launched before the end of this year”. The program “will help participating publishers monetize their contents through an improved storytelling that allows people to delve into more complex stories, stay informed and discover a world of different problems and interests”.

First arrangements already started

Bender also informs that the company has already reached agreements with a number of publishers around the world to license their contents, signing partnerships with local and national publications in Germany, Australia and Brazil. In particular, among the first publishers who signed the collaboration with Google are the German Spiegel Group, publisher of Der Spiegel, the Brazilian media company Diarios Associados and the Australian Solstice Media, publisher of local newspapers, and are currently discussing negotiations with other six countries (although, they are not openly mentioned).

No specific terms of the deal have been disclosed, nor have particular selection or participation criteria been announced at the moment, other than the expression “high quality”.

A new news experience

According to the anticipations, the content paid by Google – audio, video, images and textual stories “of quality” produced by the partners publishers – will be published and shared on the mobile app and devices that use the Android operating system, integrated into Google News and Google Discover. And precisely on these products, says Bender, will start the test preview of the service.

Whenever possible, adds the vice president for the managing of news products, “Google will pay to give users free access to read paid articles on a publisher’s site. This will allow publishers who have paywall systems to increase their audience and users to read content that they would not normally be able to view”.

This effort will diversify “our current support for news businesses, in addition to the value we already provide through Research and on our ongoing efforts with Google News Initiatives to help journalism thrive in the ‘digital era”. Although in the past the group has already funded high-quality contents, the new “program represents a significant step forward in the way we will support the creation of this type of journalism”.

The relationship between Google and editors

Google’s move does not surprise much, as it is been a long time since the colossus has been looking for an agreement to continue to distribute the news contents published by the sites; the enactment of the European Copyright Law has strengthened the position of publishing groups and may have given the final boost to the process.

For its part, the American company has always defended its work and highlighted the benefits guaranteed to the world publishing system: also in this post, Bender recalls that “over the years, we have created an audience and created economic value for publishers by sending people to news sites over 24 billion times a month, offering publishers the opportunity to offer ads or subscriptions and increase audiences for their contents”.

Alongside this, the group “launched the Google News Initiative in 2018 with a commitment of 300 million dollars to help build a more sustainable future for news through various programs”, and has allocated resources to the world of information even during the Coronavirus crisis, which “has created new and unimaginable pressures on the news industry, influencing everything from the creation of quality journalism to the continuation of traditional business models”.

The Google’s effort for news

Specifically, Google has “secured fundings for over 5,300 local publications worldwide through a relief fund for journalistic emergencies, renounced commissions for posting ads on Google Ad Manager and launched a 15 million dollars campaign to support local publishers and help alleviate some immediate economic constraints”.

More generally, the Californian company is committed to “deeply providing access to information and supporting publishers” especially at such a delicate time in history, where “people are looking for information they can count on in the midst of a global pandemic and growing concerns about racial injustice in the world”. Therefore, the role of vibrant publishing is crucial, even if this industry is being challenged by financial difficulties.

The comment of partner editors

The article also reports the comments of the three publishing groups that lead the way to this project.

Stefan Ottlitz, CEO of the Spiegel Group, says that “this new and interesting partnership with Google will allow us to curate an experience that will strengthen our editorial voice, expand our reach and provide reliable news convincingly on all Google products”, attracting readers with high quality contents.

Paul Hamra, editor and publisher of Australian news magazines including InQueensland and InDaily, says that “with local news under stress, finding new channels and new audience segments for our premium contents, in safe and well-kept environments, is a top priority. This opportunity will give us access to new markets and will offer further commercial benefits”.

Finally, Geraldo Teixeira da Costa Neto, CEO of Diarios Associados, says he is proud to be involved and declares that “on our part, we will do everything possible to make this platform prosper and be a compass for the company that seeks information from a safe and reliable source in times of difficulty”.

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