Google is told to pay up or strike a deal in French Internet debacle

A couple weeks ago, we reported that Google was threatening to exclude French media sites from search results if it passed a law that would require search engines to pay for displaying links to French media sites. Google retorted that such a law would be harmful to the Internet, and that it would be forced to stop indexing French sites as a result. Now things have heated up, with Google being told to either pay up or strike a deal.

According to Reuters, France's president Francois Hollande told Google's Eric Schmidt that the company has to start paying for the links it displays to French media outlets unless it strikes a deal with the companies. His office said in a statement, "The President...said he hoped negotiations between Google and press organs could begin quickly and conclude before the end of the year." Schmidt and Hollande met in Paris at the Elysee Palace.

Earlier this month, Google stated that it would "be required to no longer reference French sites" if such a law as the one proposed was passed. The pay model, it said, would threaten Google's existence. According to the company, the search engine giant redirects billions of clicks per month towards French media Web pages.

This issue has surfaced as a result of lagging newspaper sales in the digital age. France is one of several countries that have proposed such a law, or indicated that they find it favorable. Germany has released draft legislation that would force search engines such as Google to pay for linking to media websites. Said Fleur Pellerin, French technology minister, to Quartz, "What I would suggest — and what I'm going to suggest to Google and to the press — is to start negotiating, to start discussions for maybe three months, and try to find an agreement on a negotiated basis. And if they don't, well we'll see."

[via Reuters]