On November 29, Google and Canada signed an agreement to keep news stories links in search results and to pay $73.6m annually, or C$100m, to Canadian news publishers. The deal answers Google’s concern over Canada’s Online News Act.
Google said back in June:
“The Government of Canada has enacted a new law called Bill C-18 (the Online News Act), requiring two companies to pay for simply showing links to news, something that everyone else does for free. The unprecedented decision to put a price on links (a so-called “link tax”) creates uncertainty for our products and exposes us to uncapped financial liability simply for facilitating Canadians’ access to news from Canadian publishers.”
In the past, Google threatened to block news on its search engine, claiming that Canada’s law was more stringent compared to the ones in Australia and Europe. The tech company showed concern about its exposure to potentially uncapped liability.
However, by making changes to the Online News Act, it seems the Canadian government is satisfying Google’s concerns. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said:
“Google has agreed to properly support journalists, including local journalism. Unfortunately, Meta continues to completely abdicate any responsibility towards democratic institutions.
While the exact changes are still unknown, CBC reported that the Act’s final version would allow Google to negotiate with a group representing new organizations. The final rules may be unveiled by mid-December.
Why Does It Matter?
Google displays news snippets from publishers on its News tabs or Search screen. This limits the number of users who visit the publisher’s website, depriving publishers of ad revenue, which is the primary source of income for many.
So, like Canada, other countries like the US and India also want Google to pay new publishers. But they would worry, thinking that Google could deny paying up and decide not to show new links to search engine users. This can be detrimental to both new publishers and readers.
The latest agreement between Google and Canada shows that Google can ultimately be ready to pay. It’s a positive sign for new publishers and regulators in other countries who want Google to pay their new publishers.
Kent Walker, Google’s president of global affairs, wrote in a blog post:
“We thank the Minister of Canadian Heritage, Pascale St-Onge, for acknowledging our concerns and deeply engaging in a series of productive meetings about how they might be addressed.
Meanwhile, Meta blocked Canadian news links on Instagram and Facebook in June this year. The company has not resumed negotiations with the Canadian government regarding Bill C-18, as the CBC reports.