Google Threatens French Media With Search Engine Ban

Yesterday will not be remembered as a great day in Google's history. As well as the vertiginous stock slide, which sliced 9% off its share value before trading was halted for a couple of hours, the search engine firm threatened war with the French media. L'horage dans le teacup is over a proposed law that will force search engines to pay for content.

The (somewhat protectionist) legislation is a popular one amongst French media and publishing firms, as they have been hit by falling circulation. Google has sent a (somewhat bombastic) letter to various ministries to voice its displeasure, claiming that the law would threaten the firm's existence. "As a consequence, [Google] would be required to no longer reference French sites," it states. Culture Minster Aurelie Filippetti, who is backing the proposals, told a news agency yesterday that "you don't deal with a democratically elected government with threats."

One piece of good news for the firm (apart from the fact that Larry's got his voice back) was that it yesterday released its Chromebook. The $249 device, made alongside Samsung, is aimed at "everyone," although Cloud aficionados may find the screen-ARM processor-what, you want more? combo-in-a-clamshell more useful than anyone else. The bad news, however, is that non-tablet/smartphone devices have still taken a bit of a hit thanks to the unbridled popularity of tablets and smartphones, with low sales expected for the first quarter of 2013.

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  • mangochutney

    This is interesting as this happens on a state basis and the publishers can only do so much about it.
    We witnessed a spat between German publishers and Google a while back where Google, too, threatened to stop indexing sites by German news organisations. They complained about Google scraping their content and not giving them a cut.
    The whole affair was seemingly swept under a very large rug; I'm not aware that any deals were signed—at least not openly. My guess is that the publishing industry realised that the amount of hits they get off of Google is worth more money than what they loose from Google's news scraping business.

  • Guest

    The publishing industry is losing money big-time to Google and its bizarrely anarchist/Orwellian pirate "business." Case in point, the settlement between publishing companies and Google regarding the unauthorized scanning of thousands of copyrighted books under a flimsy "fair use" argument. The same thing is happening to the book publishing industry with Amazon per the newfound popularity of e-books and the abhorrent slush pile of the "self-publishing" audience, who the Author's Guild rightfully regards as a bunch of no-talent scabs sleeping with the enemy.

    It's arguably more difficult to adequately "pirate" a print book unless 1) the pirate downloader is willing to settle for a low-quality copy that's borderline unreadable, or 2) some dedicated SOB with way too much time on his hands (and probably other stuff on his hands too... I mean Red Hot Cheetos, of course) who steals cover art from Amazon and retypes the WHOLE BOOK only to re-upload his "custom" e-book as a .pdf to Rapidshare or Pirate's Bay.

    This actually happened with the Harry Potter books because fans were annoyed that J.K. Rowling was at one point adamant about never releasing the Potter series as e-books. Now she does, but they're on "Pottermore" rather than Amazon (she basically keeps all the royalties by selling the e-books through her own site). A quick search of Pirate's Bay turns up not only Potter .pdfs but also her latest, "A Casual Vacancy" and also .mp3 files of the Potter audiobooks (both editions, the Jim Dale editions and the British set read by Stephen Fry). Unfortunately, consumer demand has made it almost impossible to retain e-book rights solely for the purpose of not adapting one's work to e-format (and thus increasing the risk of piracy). Sending pirates to jail along with drug dealers and Jerry Sandusky is not the answer. Google and Amazon ought to be ashamed of themselves and sanctioned heavily by the world's governments. But we saw how popular that whole SOPA thing was.

    A pox on Google, Amazon and the whole lot of book pirates the world over. It's not just Twilight and Fifty Shades that are contributing to the death of literature as a whole. It's e-books, search engines and selfish darknets like Pirate's Bay.

  • Mr. Head

    Geez, just saw Atlas Shrugged Part, who would-a-thunk that the political assheads that represent our government in the movie are actually FRENCH?

    Love it...who is John Gault