This may sound shocking but may soon become reality. The French government is considering bringing a new bill into action that will force the search engine giant to pay for the links of newspapers that it displays in online searches. Google has claimed that if this new bill is passed, it could threaten the very existence of the company.
The internet giant has threatened to effectively stop traffic to websites of the French press by stopping the indexing of news related articles published online by French newspapers. Indexing is the process where the Googlebot searches through and processes each page that it crawls and creates a huge index of the words and their locations on the web pages. When people use Google search, the search terms are compared with the index and the search engine returns matching web pages that it deems most relevant to the user. So if pages are not indexed, they won’t show up on any searches conducted by users.
Purpose of the bill
The French Prime Minister – Francois Hollande has expressed his support for this bill. Jerome Cahuzac, the Budget Minister of France claimed that Google was taking away a portion of the value added to news articles when they are indexed. Newspaper publishers in France have already asked the French government last month to adopt laws that would force the internet giant to share advertisement revenues that it gets from searches for news-based content. This bill was created to ensure that publishers are paid their due when their articles are indexed. This move by the French government came after German politicians approved a similar legislation this August that would require all search engines to pay German media websites for content.
Aggressive response by Google
After Google threatened to stop referencing French news web pages, Hollande has decided to have a meeting with Eric Schmidt, the Executive Chairman of Google, on 29th October to discuss this controversial bill. Schmidt is also set to meet Aurelie Filippetti – the French Culture Minister, before the meeting with Prime Minister Hollande. In strongly-worded letters to French officials, Google stated that is will not accept the legislation and would be forced to stop referencing French websites if the bill is passed. The strong threats made by the search engine have surprised quite a few politicians and French newspaper publishers, prompting French politicians to schedule meetings with Google representatives.