Why France Publishers are Putting the Screws to Google

More than any other single factor, Google changed the model for publishing, and now some countries are fighting back.

France is threatening legislation that would force Google to pay publishers for indexing their stories on Google News. In response, Google said it would stop indexing stories from French publishers if such legislation is passed.

This is the latest in a string of volleys against the world’s largest search engine, which has long sought ways to leverage its advantage in one area (search) to also dominate another (advertising). In Brazil, for example, the nation’s publishers have decided to opt out of Google’s index, rationalizing that the dubious promise of higher traffic wasn’t worth the loss of a captive market.

Most anti-trust courts have found such behavior illegal; Google thus far has managed to skirt any real trouble, thanks in part to the presence of Yahoo and Microsoft’s Bing. But Google aggregates so much content, and circumvents so many paywalls, it’s difficult to prove that there’s fair value to a given participant.

This is something to watch as most publishers, including UP Media, have been batted around like a mouse in a cat’s clutches Google, and few of us will feel much empathy if the search giant were to be forced to play by the rules.