The agreement, signed on February 1st at the Elysée Palace by Google and the members of the French general and political press, was referred to as “a world premiere” by the President of France, François Hollande. Eric Schmidt, the Executive Chairman of Google, who came especially to Paris for the occasion, said "today we made history in France".
This agreement is the culmination of a 3-month negotiation for which Marc Schwartz was appointed by the government as Mediator between the two parties. The viewpoints, initially strongly opposed, have finally converged towards a compromise which, according to Marc Schwartz, can be seen as “an intelligent way of sharing the value created in the digital world”.
Indeed, Google will keep complete access to news publishers’ content and the search engine will provide a €60m fund to finance the French publishers’ digital media projects. Furthermore, Google will help French publishers to better capitalise on their online audiences. Ultimately, the agreement is a sustainable partnership which will support the French press’ transition to digital media and foster innovation.
This agreement, which concludes the dispute between Google and the French press, is also the first time the internet giant has taken a step to reconcile the situation with news content creators and producers. It could also serve as a reference for future discussions between Google and press publishers in other European countries.
A fund dedicated to technological innovation and the transition to digital media publishing
Google is committed to creating and financing a fund dedicated to digital media publishing. Consisting of €60m, this fund will allow the political and general news publishers to invest in transformative digital media projects.
The projects to be financed will be selected according to transparent criteria, particularly based on aspects of innovation and economic viability. The board administrating this fund will include Google representatives and news publishers as well as independent experts.
Marc Schwartz was approached by Google and the news publishers to Chair the Board administrating this fund. The decision has not yet been taken and, will of course be in total agreement with Mazars' rules of operation.
A reinforced commercial partnership
The second component of the agreement is a commercial partnership between Google and the publishers. Google will allow the publishers access to its many technological platforms, on an optional and incentive basis, to facilitate the increase of digital media audiences and the advertising revenue of digital media both on the internet and on mobile devices, thus allowing press publishers to develop their digital media revenues and to accelerate the transition into new forms of commercialisation for their audiences.
In order to fulfil his role as Mediator, Marc Schwartz relied on a multidisciplinary team composed of members from several service lines within Mazars, particularly Consulting and Financial Advisory Services. The final negotiations took place at Mazars' Head Office, in Paris-La Défense.