Internet search giant Google has warned French media sites that it would have to remove their links from their search results if the French government adopts a new law that forces search engines to pay for content.
AFP obtained a copy of a letter sent by Google to several French ministerial offices stated that they “cannot accept” such a law and if it pushes through they “would be required to no longer reference French sites,” crippling traffic. Google “redirects four billion ‘clicks’ per month towards the Internet pages” of French media, if passed, the new law would “threaten (Google’s) very existence”.
The conflict comes from the media struggling to benefit from the traffic as online readers resist paying for content when so much of it is freely available on the Internet, while Google makes ad money from displaying headlines and a few lines of content. The French publishers believe that headlines with a few lines of content are enough for most readers therefore they do not delve further into the site, thus losing potential ad revenue for original content.
It’s still too early to see if Google will indeed push through with its threats when the time comes, but whatever the case may be Google won’t take this conflict with the French government lightly.