back to article France again threatens Google with link tax

French President François Hollande has told Google chair Eric Schmidt his nation intends to proceed with plans to force the Chocolate Factory to pay when it links to news content. Hollande, Aurélie Filippetti (France's Minister of Culture and Communication) and Fleur Pellerin (Minister for Small and Medium Enterprises, …


This topic is closed for new posts.


  1. Herby

    In other news...

    Google opens up a news agency in France so it can link to itself.

    Of course France already links to itself, but that is another matter.

    Irony of the week: Using Bing to translate a Google story.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      They put up taxes to 75% of income for those earning 1,000,000 euros or £750,000. Then they invent more taxes.

      In the meantime they increase spending what they do no have and make no austerity cuts falling deeper into debt.

      So now the high earners and wealth creators look to move abroad, resulting in more new taxes etc, so businesses then look to relocate their operations.

      Welcome,to London.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: First

        Some people really have difficulties to grasp that whole tax bracket thing. It's not people earning 1 million € that will pay 75% tax. It's the amount /above/ that first million that will be taxed thusly, if that law is enacted.

        I shudder at the thought of having barely 800000€ to live with annually (that would be roughly the income after tax on 2 millions earnings). My heart goes to those poor families.

        Of course, they sure can go to London and enjoy that worldwide famous weather, and the cheap cost of life there. Unlike all those deluded British people who foolishly come to live in the south of France.

        Sarcasm comes in easy with such ridiculous statements.

        And yet, I do agree that our Ayrault government is being unrealistic on their spending plans.

  2. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    A.N.Other Way, La Belle France ...... Next Generation NEUKLearer HyperRadioProActive IT

    The President therefore hopes “negotiations can be quickly engage and concluding by the end of the year between Google and news publishers.” If those negotiations don't go well, Hollande said he is well and truly prepared to legislate as he feels tapping Google for cash is a reasonable thing to do in support of French newspapers.

    Is that an unequivocal tacit admission by present French politicians and mainstream media carriers that they are not valuable value adding content generators/imaginative money distribution virtual machines.

    I can't see how such a taxing parasitic morph be thought to be a constructive novel solution.

    Is the Greater Great IntelAIgent Game Problem and Bigger Cosmic Picture Dilemma for Final Solution and Universal Resolution not how to make money, for that is so simple whenever it is so easily invented and printed/electronically transferred and quantitatively eased into numbered accounts, but how to ensure that all have always more than they will ever need rather than just a few, and a few more who would conspire to ensure that the many have always less than is desired, so that they be subject to unnecessary hardship and remote virtual control with restrictive free money supply which has been diverted to create fortunes which identify their owners as unimaginative taxing parasites blighting humanity rather than enlightening and improving situations and conditions for races and species, native and primitive life phorms, with Command and Control of Computers and Communications in a Creative CyberSpace where AI and IT Systems and Alternate Reality Generators [AI2TSystems] build Futures for Virtual CHAOS Product Placement into Surreal Main Line Streams/Main Street Media Channels.

    In that transparent way do Astute Intelligence and Alienating Information Transfer Systems deliver with Clouds Hosting Advanced Operating Systems that which are to be fundamental beta replacement presents for pasts which have been turned rotten and toxic/destructively self-defeating.

    And to deny it is the future whenever it has been so clearly and simply explained to you, must surely suggest that one is in a state of delusion/self-delusion, and in need of more intelligence and/or information ……. and that is, as is surely here well enough proven, very easily provided.

    And yes,….. before some bright spark asks ….. I have asked myself if a state of delusion and/or self-delusion exists here too but no reply suggests that it be a moot point, and for future rather than present consideration in a waste of infinite time in endless space.

    1. btone

      Re: A.N.Other Way, La Belle France ...... Next Generation NEUKLearer HyperRadioProActive IT

      well thats easy for you to say...

    2. Alister

      Re: A.N.Other Way, La Belle France ...... Next Generation NEUKLearer HyperRadioProActive IT

      I often wonder if amanfromMars is in fact a failed Turing Test on the rampage, or possibly one of those email spam generators which has achieved sentience.

    3. David 45

      Re: A.N.Other Way, La Belle France ...... Next Generation NEUKLearer HyperRadioProActive IT

      Huh? Reminds me of the old joke about having swallowed a dictionary! Has that been posted by a human or one of them there nonsense-producing bots? :-)

      1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

        Re: A.N.Other Way, La Belle France ...... Next Generation NEUKLearer HyperRadioProActive IT

        How very odd that you cannot tell the difference between/make a firm decision on whether this text is man or machine generated and posted.

        Ask the Register, for they will surely know ..... surely?

        And regarding the aforementioned oddity, would it really matter a jot if what you discovered was not what you were expecting and even stranger than that which you never even imagined was possible? Man certainly appears to accept without rigourous questioning all manner of shit which is specifically designed to render life a misery rather than a pleasure. And that is real dumb, aint it ......sub-prime primitive in deed, indeed.

        And others would realise that that makes Man catastrophically vulnerable to ruthless exploitation to the point of extinction ..... of those thoroughly deserving of removal from the scene because of their perverse and corrupt destructive actions/stupid false thoughts shared and aired .... and beyond.

        1. Alister

          Re: A.N.Other Way, La Belle France ...... Next Generation NEUKLearer HyperRadioProActive IT

          @amanfromMars 1

          "How very odd that you cannot tell the difference between/make a firm decision on whether this text is man or machine generated and posted."

          Given your predilection for long, rambling sentences with random capitalisation and strange phrasing, bordering on the unintelligible, is it any wonder if we conflate your postings with the output of a spambot?

          I did in fact describe you as "a failed Turing Test" and an "email spam generator which has achieved sentience" so I think you're ahead of the game either way...

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bye bye then

    No more Google news for you!

    (who would notice?)

  4. Thorne

    Just Do It

    Google should stop threatening the French and just do it. Once all French newspapers disappear from Google, the whole idea of link taxes will disappear. It won't hurt Google much but will hurt the papers.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Just Do It

      Not only that but it would warn other countries trying to do the same. If Google gives in every country will follow the frogs.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Just Do It

        « it would warn other countries trying to do the same »

        You are overestimating the news lobbies' intelligence. The very same situation happened not long ago in Belgium, all their newspapers disappeared from the Google index for two whole days before the government (actually, the lobbies) backed. Did that serve as a lesson to the French/German/Italian? Nope.

        The funniest part is when you hear Filipetti (French "culture minister", actually the news and entertainment industries' pet dog) and several newspapers whine about Google blackmailing them with unlinking! Can't wait for that unlinking to happen, should be fun to watch...

        1. wowfood

          Re: Just Do It

          So let me get this straight. Google link to news sites.

          The news sites want to get paid to have content driven to them by google.

          Isn't the the exact opposite of how marketting works? Aren't there some companies paying thousands to get the top spots on google? And they're complaining because they don't get paid to be there for free? Really?

          What next? Are they going to ask television stations to pay them to put up annoying adverts between the shows I want to watch?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Cable TV

            What next? Are they going to ask television stations to pay them to put up annoying adverts between the shows I want to watch?

            Or even more crazy, will they ask consumers to pay to watch TV shows saturated with advertising? Oh wait...

    2. Steve the Cynic

      Re: Just Do It

      Actually, there is one way in which dropping all the links would damage Google (not so much, perhaps, seeing as how they've done it once already). They have in the past made much of the claim that their search results are purely algorithmic. It's not much of a claim when presented to technologically aware folks like your typical Reg reader, since we all know that algorithms can be groped to do more or less anything you want, but Joe Public and typical politicians interpret that as "it's all up to the computer, we humans can't do anything about it". By flicking the switch on a whole country's news services, Google adds "except when we want to extort[*] something from you" to this.

      [*] It's /exortion/, not /blackmail/. Blackmail is a very specific subset of extortion, summed up as "do what we want or we'll tell on you", whereas this is "do what we want or we break your newspapers".

      I'd say it's a big gamble for Google - if they do it (often enough), they run the risk of getting some fairly severe backlash, but they can't back down having made the threat... Keeping it as an "everyone knows they can, but nobody actually says so" thing would be a saner option.

      1. Muscleguy Silver badge

        Re: Just Do It

        Of course while Google goes around extorting behaviour profitable to it from individual countries a case is building for action by big Daddy EU who is doubtless watching with interest. Can Google afford to try this with the EU?

        I think we may live in Interesting Times.

        1. Ben Tasker Silver badge

          Re: Just Do It

          The EU may be nuts sometimes, but I doubt this is something they're going to care about.

          Those papers have traffic driven to them by Google, they can then potentially monetise that (whether with ads, or offering paid services or whatever), instead they want Google to pay to link to them?

          Incidentally, it's not extortion. Think of it in this context;

          I'm going to charge you £50 every time you borrow my car.

          The main difference obviously being that borrowing my car doesn't benefit me. Essentially Google are saying in advance "we wouldn't be prepared to pay to do that, so we'll stop doing that". That's not extortion, that's walking away from a contract, can't see even the EU seeing it any other way.

          I fully expect the French to cut their noses off just to spite their face though

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Just Do It

            And me thinking that it was Google doing millions by pushing ads to those Frenchmen looking for news, while those same newspapers are struggling because their own ad revenues are drying up.

            Because that's the core of Google business, remember? They're not a charity magnanimously pushing traffic to websites because it feels nice. They're a company doing hard business, fighting to pay as little tax as possible, and paying very little as a result. Probably much less than those same newspapers which are nationally based and cannot funnel money from country to country to make it disappear.


            1. Sam Liddicott

              er... Re: Just Do It

              I think google doesn't put adverts on its news pages

            2. estragor

              Re: Just Do It

              That's BS of course!

              Google isn't doing millions as a result of people searching for news. Google is doing millions because of people searching for whatever they want to find. Especially, *French* news are only of interest to french-speaking people. My guess is you get down to pretty small numbers (percentage-wise) of people landing on a french news site as a result of a search.

              What these morons are saying is that they want to get a piece of the advertising cake from all different interests people have all over the *world*. Why should they have that?

              Personally I most often land at wikipedia. They would get a pretty big piece of the cake if this logic would hold.

              The newspapers need to find a business model that works in this brave knew world but this is obviously not the answer.

              Or are you/they saying that Google should be forced to link to places that want to charge them for the links? Why not just go to their headquarter and say "we want you money, give it to us" instead.

      2. Thorne

        Re: Just Do It

        "I'd say it's a big gamble for Google - if they do it (often enough), they run the risk of getting some fairly severe backlash, but they can't back down having made the threat"

        What backlash? The French making it illegal for Google to unlink them? You can't force them to link and then tax them for it.

        This is exactly like a shop keeper taxing the local council for supplying a road to their store. The council says "Bugger you. We'll rip the road up then" and the shop keeper crying that he's being extorted by the council. Talk about biting the hand that feeds you.

        Personally I agree with Google. Bugger paying the frogs for the privilage of sending people to their websites.

  5. Ole Juul


    I suppose there's no French word for that - or perhaps they just refuse to use the English.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Google obviously forgot to take the Frennch Cabinet out on a Jolly

    Seems to have worked elsewhere in other countries.

  7. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

    Huffpost ?

    Hmm, does this mean they would make Huffpost pay up too?

    1. TeeCee Gold badge

      Re: Huffpost ?

      Huffpost has actual news in it? When did that happen?

  8. dssf

    So much for two things, maybe...

    1. Google's tax break for setting up and 4&D facility (someone told me that google and others set up shop in France for this reason, and to tap the users of English, so google does not have to explicitly speak French involuntarily nor hunt for fluent, capable users of English)

    2. Paris' allure as a tax haven or reduced tax locale...

    Looks like they both want to go up in flames, or a little roasty, toasty BBR singeing...

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Google news doesn't bring clicks to sites. Most news are shit anyway so a site that allows you to skim through the crap would obviously reduce your clicks.

    Since it does use the site's content to help avoiding the site perhaps they should pay or start their own news agency. It'd be interesting to see how they could turn a news agency into a cancerous personal information leech.

    1. Ben Tasker Silver badge

      Ignoring the obvious troll element, but

      Most news are shit anyway so a site that allows you to skim through the crap would obviously reduce your clicks.

      Since it does use the site's content to help avoiding the site perhaps they should pay or start their own news agency

      Which would suggest that those news sites need to up their game, not that Google needs to pay to provide those links. Or perhaps, those Newspapers should estimate how many people went "Nah that looks shit" and didn't click, and charge on that basis? It's only marginally more crazy than asking someone who might be driving some extra visitors to you to pay for the privilege of doing so

      1. wowfood

        Don't forget

        the number of news sites which just regurgitate information. I can't count the number of times I've gone to a "news" site, and find the article is just a copy / paste from another site, which is in turn a copy / paste from another stie until you find out that 90% of online news sites are plagurising bastards, with perhaps only 3% of them getting any news, and 7% who collate the news from said 3% and put it in their own words with references.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Flower Pellerin?

    Hmmm, France's minister for SME is called Fleur Pellerin. No need to translate her first name :)

    Regarding the topic at hand: I don't care about Google News, I use Netvibes.

    In any case, I have bookmarks for the good news sites I regularly consult like the BBC or The Register and I certainly don't need Google to find them on the Interweb!

  11. Potemkine Silver badge

    and your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries

    Press corporations are good to lobby, very good indeed, being the relay of politicians who need the press. Note also that in France there are many occurrences of couples made of a journalist with a statesman, starting by the President himself. Collusion between media and politicians is IMHO a problem in our democracy.

    Anyway, this idea of taxing Google for this is an aberration, won't work and will be probably declared as unconstitutional by the "Conseil Constitutionnel", in charge of ensuring that laws respect the Constitution. Moreover, the press needs Google, when the opposite is not true. This tax proposal will fail.

    1. Simon_Sharwood_Reg_APAC_Editor (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: and your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries

      I'm glad somebody got the Python reference.

  12. Britt Johnston

    Google could raise the stakes, and patent French on the internet.

  13. Tim Worstal

    But this is ridiculous

    Google News doesn't carry ads.

    So there is no revenue to Google from their linking. Only the revenue the newspapers get from the click throughs. The newspapers are already getting all the revenue there is.

    So what are they talking about?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: But this is ridiculous


      This is what they are talking about (caution, it's in French):

      The start of the 2nd page shows a screen grab of what the problem is.

      It's not Google News, which as someone else already pointed out doesn't contain ads (and why not? because Google knew full well that they'd have a lawsuit on their hand from the News Agencies if they did try to pull that one off). So instead, they tip-toed around the problem and collect ad-revenues from presenting news articles as suggestions to normal searches done using their search engine.

      The core of the plaintiffs' case is that their algorithms scan the whole content of the articles* rather than the first lines and keywords presented by the authors. So they argue that it's not "fair use" and that they make money out of copyrighted material.

      * Allegedly, I don't know one way or the other

      1. Tim Worstal

        Re: But this is ridiculous

        Ah. That makes sense.

        Not a great deal, but I can actually see what the complaint is.

  14. Velv

    Everybody's out to make a buck.

    Presumably the French News sites think google makes a massive profit from their content, and they want their share of google's profit (and I'm not denying google doesn't make a profit, however I suspect there aren't that many clicks through from ads on news searches).

    So the French could set the robots.txt to stop the search engines indexing the content and thus preventing google et al from stealing their content to make profit. That would show google, wouldn't it?

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Just do it

    And why do you think Google hasn't dropped French/Belgian/German (pick one or more) news sites from their algorithms?

    Because the minute they do that, they will stop being the ubiquitous search engine that they are and open the door to a competitor (existing or newly created) that would agree to those demands.

    1. estragor

      Re: Just do it

      "Good luck" is my comment to such a competitor :-)

      I'm sure they will drop the links if they actually do have to start paying for having them. Any other action would open a door to a totally ridiculous situation not just for Google but for all of the internet. Should the news-sites start to pay taxes for linking to YouTube?

      And, as someone already said, the newspapers are free to request that Google should stop indexing them whenever they want. If they don't like being in the search results they are by no means forced to.


        Re: Just do it

        They don't even have to request it. They have to power right now to insert a simple text string into their HTML that will stop the problem.

        They are being whiny little bitches going "But I WANT!"

        This proposal is going to fail. They have no reasonable negotiating position and their demands are unreasonable.

  16. Christoph

    A reasonable thing?

    "tapping Google for cash is a reasonable thing to do in support of French newspapers."

    Does that really mean "We don't have enough money. You have lots of money. Therefore we will make a law that we can take your money." ?

    1. Sam Liddicott

      Re: A reasonable thing?

      Yes that's what it means. Presumably in France they have different traditions. In England we call it Robin Hood tax or Windfall tax.

  17. Anonymous Coward

    What this whole thing /really/ shows us

    Is that the "upper brass" (politics) have absolutely no idea - what so ever - how this "internet thing" actually works. And apparently some also don't seem capable of getting things explained to them in any way.

    What baffles me is the stupidity of it all... The Internet is a public medium; anyone can access your website unless you make it so that they can't. Same applies for search engines. But if you don't want those search engines to "use" your material then there's nothing stopping you from blocking them (robots.txt).

    I get the idea that they seem to be incapable to comprehend even the most common basics such as "public access", "search engine", etc...

    Here's the thing: if these very trivial aspects prove to be so hard for the (in this case French) politicians to understand, then how on earth can we expect them to comprehend the whole file sharing environments (BitTorrent)? Within this context I can clearly see why agencies such as the RIAA and BREIN (to name two coming to my mind) as so influential.

    Isn't these something anyone can do about that? At least making sure that these politicians - know - what they're talking about?

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The French just don't get it...

    Ever since I can remember, the French have been enacting legislation that hinders development of or totally misunderstands the point of the Internet in France. Think back to the 'DADVSI' law from, I think, 2006, which basically outlaws software such as Apache, sendmail et al. (because they are able to transmit potentially copyright-protected material without enforcing any restrictions on that transmission) and therefore more or less renders the Internet illegal in France if applied to the letter. Then think back to the early '90s and the era of the minitel that was a right little money-maker for France Telecom. At the time, France Telecom played the internet down big time, preferring to push the minitel instead.

    What I can see happening now is Google simply stopping returning links to French news sites in search results. The news agencies will soon see a marked drop in traffic to their networks with loss of advertising revenue etc.

    "M*rde alors! Il aurait p't-etre pas fallu tuer la poule aux oeufs d'or..." ("sh!t - maybe we shouldn't have killed the golden goose...")

    Maybe one day the French will pull their heads out of their own derrieres and realize how the internet (and the rest of the world for that matter) works. Mind you, by then it will have been replaced by something else.

    FWIW, I lived in France for 24 years so I do know what I'm on about :)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The French just don't get it...

      >What I can see happening now is Google simply stopping returning links to French news sites in search

      >results. The news agencies will soon see a marked drop in traffic to their networks with loss of advertising

      >revenue etc.

      Again, how many times do you read a news article from a link returned to you by a page of search results?

      Do you really believe that those newspapers (we're not talking about The Register, Ars Technica or other web only sheets here) will loose millions of visitors, billions if you believe Google?

  19. Dan Paul

    Most "Papers" or Magazines are going to a Web Only Model

    Not that many people read it but Newsweek is going to web based only, no paper issues any longer. (What will you do at the dentists office now?) Time Magazine and others will soon be right behind them. Most "large" newspapers already have Ipad apps and web news with a subscription model.

    Some smaller papers have a non subscription model and are web capable. Seems to me that will be the right way to go but they need to have a combo of in print and online advertising that pays ALL the bills.

    There are plenty of article lockdowns on the WSJ and various magazines where you can find a link to an article through a search engine but can only read the teaser paragraphs before they say "to read more, please purchase a subscription". National Geographic magazine apparently allows you to read the whole article but they have a huge and loyal print subscription base too.

    If that's what the paper or magazine needs to do to protect it's bottom line then there is nothing Google can do to break that AS LONG AS THE WEB PAGE IS PROPERLY CODED WITH THE RIGHT BROWSER INSTRUCTIONS.

    If the paper is too dumb or cheap to make the changes required to have people pay for their online content then I say too bad for them.

    Deep linking usually breaks after a few days anyway so no one is jumping past all the ad's for long.

    Please tell me, other than usual EU crybaby complaining how is Google doing anything wrong here and why on earth should they pay one damned red cent in tax to France or any other EU country?

  20. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    If French media sites don't want to appear in search results, just make their content less relevant to the searches.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hotlinking - not 'linking'

    Google News is actually hotlinking (which the article fails to mention). That is, they steal the images, headline and first paragraph/excerpt from the news article and displays it on their news site.

    A lot of people only read headlines and excerpts so they never go to the actual news site.

    Google does this while displaying ads, therefore earning money on this pirated content. This is actually far worse than what e.g. the Pirate Bay does (which does not display any content from the material, only a link).

    This is not simply a tax on links. It is a tax on displaying other sites content on your own site without paying for it.

    Internet Search is so important in todays world that it should be considered a public utility (like water or electricity). Therefore it needs to be regulated. As any web-designer knows, all websites in the world are completely dependent on Google for success and there is nothing they can do about it except this kind of regulation.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author


This topic is closed for new posts.

Other stories you might like

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022