Google News could leave Europe under new copyright law

Europe may lose access to the Google News aggregation service, as the company considers a response to EU plans to compensate content creators when web giants use excerpts from news articles.

The company reportedly told Bloomberg it would consider withdrawing Google News completely if the European Union’s Copyright Directive law is passed. Jennifer Bernal, Google’s public policy manager for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, says such a decision would be made reluctantly and is one of only a number of options.

The company is also thought to be considering publishing headlines alone, minus the excepts from the reports within search results, should the law come into effect.

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Given Google has claimed it doesn’t make any money from the News service, the company may be more likely to quit the scene in Europe rather than begin paying out to content owners under the proposed EU directive, which would also apply to the likes of Facebook and Apple.

While the law could help online news sources bring in more revenue from web giants, who currently publish excerpts from copyrighted content free of charge, there’s also another element to consider.

Plenty of online sources rely on Google News in order to help bring in revenue-earning traffic. The ability to appear among the ranked stories on Google News boosts the number of eyes the content is exposed to. The absence of Google News could end up doing more damage for some site,s than the benefits of an influx of new revenue from the EU ruling.

Francois Godard of Enders Analysis told Bloomberg he didn’t “buy the threat” because Google and other web giants “really need Europe.”

European legislators are still putting the finishing touches to the law, with some EU member states debating the ins and outs. An agreement is still expected early this year. Depending on how Brexit pans out, Britain may be exempt from any Googlexit by the time the law comes into place.

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