Google is changing the way it displays news stories produced by European publishers in France as new copyright rules go into effect.
Rather than paying publishers to display snippets of their news stories, the company will show only headlines from articles, Google’s vice president of news Richard Gingras announced Wednesday. The company will only display previews and thumbnail images from news stories if publishers agree to provide them for free.
This move will disappoint publishers who had hoped for additional revenue as a result of new copyright law that goes into effect in France in October. The country is the first to implement European Union copyright rules passed earlier this year.
When the European Parliament approved the changes, the expectation was that Google (GOOG) could be forced to pay publishers to use snippets of their content, a so-called “link tax.” Proponents described the measures as empowering publishers to strike deals with companies like Google (GOOG) and Facebook (FB).
But Google says that it doesn’t pay for news content as a matter of policy. The company shut down Google News in Spain after a law passed in 2014 would have mandated such payments.
“We believe that Search should operate on the basis of relevance and quality, not commercial relationships,” the company says on an FAQ page for European publishers. “That’s why we don’t accept payment from anyone to be included in organic search results and we don’t pay for the links or preview content included in search results.”
The company asserts that opting into previews will benefit European publishers, which it says receive 8 billion clicks through Google Search each month.
The announcement by Google is not surprising, given its actions in Spain and Germany, which previously passed rules similar to the EU directive, said Eleonora Rosati, a professor in intellectual property law and copyright expert at University of Southampton. In Germany, Google instituted the same policy that it’s adopting in France, she said.
Still, the action indicates that the EU rules are “not really achieving what [they were] meant to achieve,” she said.
European governments have until 2021 to implement laws that reflect the new EU copyright rules.