The French fight with Google

Posted by Guy Wright

Recently Google has been having a bit of a tiff with the French government. 
French politicians claim that Google is making a profit from the content that was created by French companies.

They are now considering a law that would force Google to pay a fee for displaying information and links to
French sites. The German government is considering a similar law.

Google’s response was, “Okay! We just won’t link to French websites anymore. What do you think about them pommes?”

The French response was “We don’t take kindly to threats!”

Mon Dieu!

I’m sorry, but I have to side with Google on this one. I also suspect that most of the French (or German) sites that Google links too are more than happy to show up on Google’s radar – heck, there are lots of companies out there who pay SEO (Search Engine Optimization) experts a lot of money to get them closer to the top of Google’s lists. Companies even pay Google for clicks.

In fact when a French or German sites shows up on Google it virtually guarantees increased profits for those companies (and indirectly strengthens their country’s economies and governments). On the other hand, if French and German websites go dark on Google then they might as well not exist at all and companies in those countries that do a lot of international business will suffer.

In a world where copyrights are becoming less meaningful and content, particularly text, is copied indiscriminately on thousands and thousands of websites you might think the French and German governments are championing to protect the rights of poor content providers. But I doubt it.

Frankly, I think this is yet another attempt by politicians to try and cash in on the Internet. The minute governments began to realize that the Internet was attracting thousands, then millions, and then billions of people they’ve been trying to figure out how they could tax the web. All this virtual money was changing hands and they weren’t getting any of it. It just isn’t fair!

Google says that it redirects as many as four billion clicks a month to French sites. That’s four billion virtual tourists (and potentially four billion sales). 
Obviously, Google does French and German companies much more good than harm. And if anyone thinks that providing a headline and one sentence from a site is stealing content or infringing on copyrights they don’t know much about international copyright law.

The only fly in the ointment here is the fact that we are getting closer to the day when individual companies become more powerful than governments.