Google Pressed to Pay for News It Aggregates and Distributes

From a story in the Wall Street Journal by Benjamin Mullin headlined “Google Will Pay Some Publishers For News Content”:

Alphabet Inc.’s Google said it has reached agreements with selected publishers around the world to license news content, a significant development in the yearslong tug of war between the tech giant and media companies.

Google said the initial participants include Germany’s Spiegel Group, publisher of Der Spiegel; Brazilian media company Diarios Associados; and Solstice Media, the publisher of local newspapers in Australia.

The company didn’t announce partnerships with any publishers in the U.S., where large players including Wall Street Journal parent News Corp have pressed Google to compensate them for news content.

Brad Bender, Google’s vice president of product management for news, said the company is talking to news outlets in “half a dozen” additional countries, but declined to name them. . . .

For years, news executives have criticized major tech companies like Google and Facebook Inc. for aggregating and distributing articles on their platforms without shouldering any of the financial burden of gathering the news. Rupert Murdoch, News Corp executive chairman, has been among the most outspoken critics, along with News Corp Chief Executive Robert Thomson.

The winds have begun to shift, somewhat. Facebook last year struck multimillion-dollar deals with publishers to put some of their content in its news tab. Apple Inc. last year launched Apple News+, which for $9.99 a month provides access to articles from hundreds of magazines including Vogue, GQ and Sports Illustrated. Dow Jones & Co., publisher of the Journal, has a commercial agreement to supply news through Apple services.

Google has moved more slowly than its rivals. In February, the Journal reported that Google was in talks to pay publishers for news content. . . .

In the U.S., the Justice Department and a group of state attorneys general are likely to bring antitrust litigation against Google, focusing on its dominant search and online-advertising businesses, the Journal has reported.

“We can’t turn the clock back to a world where the internet doesn’t exist,” Mr. Bender said. “We are highly motivated to play our part alongside other companies, governments and civil-society groups to enable a better future for journalism.”

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