Goog­le offers 3.2 mil­li­on euros for press rights

Goog­le has offe­red a pay­ment of 3.2 mil­li­on euros for Corint Media’s reper­toire, which com­bi­nes around one third of Ger­man press publis­hers’ rights. Trans­fer­red to the ent­i­re mar­ket, Goog­le would thus offer around 10 mil­li­on euros for the Ger­man press publis­hers’ rights. With an esti­ma­ted tur­no­ver of 11.3 bil­li­on euros, this would cor­re­spond to a licence rate of 0.1 per cent. Corint Media had deman­ded a pay­ment of 420 mil­li­on euros from Goog­le as appro­pria­te remu­ne­ra­ti­on. Licen­sing Google’s uses on this basis is impos­si­ble. In the enfor­ce­ment of press publis­hers’ right, the focus is now on the ongo­ing pro­cee­dings of the Federal Car­tel Office (Bun­des­kar­tell­amt; BKAr­tA) against Alpha­bet and Goog­le as mar­ket domi­na­tors.

Press Release
Ber­lin, 2022-03-04
Corint Media Mana­ging Direc­tors Chris­toph Schwennicke and Mar­kus Run­de

Goog­le has made Corint Media an offer of 3.2 mil­li­on euros for the repre­sen­ted publis­hers’ rights in 300 press publi­ca­ti­ons. In rela­ti­on to the ent­i­re Ger­man press mar­ket, of which Corint Media repres­ents about one third, this would mean a pay­ment of only 10 mil­li­on euros for all Ger­man press publis­hers’ rights. This pro­po­sal con­trasts with Goog­le reve­nues in Ger­ma­ny in 2021 of around 11.3 bil­li­on euros.

The sum offe­red is the first figu­re Goog­le has quo­ted as pay­ment for the rights repre­sen­ted by Corint Media. Goog­le had rejec­ted the licence agree­ment drawn up by Corint Media for a pay­ment of 420 mil­li­on euros p.a. and final­ly also an inte­rim agree­ment. This was inten­ded to end the ongo­ing situa­ti­on in which Goog­le has been unlaw­ful­ly inter­fe­ring with the press publis­hers’ right sin­ce it came into for­ce in June 2021 by using con­tent from press publis­hers in its offe­rings without paying for this use. In par­al­lel, courts and aut­ho­ri­ties should deci­de on pos­si­ble con­ten­tious issu­es of copy­right and anti­trust law in sub­se­quent pro­cee­dings.

Corint Media had cal­cu­la­ted the licence fee of 420 mil­li­on on the basis of Google’s esti­ma­ted tur­no­ver in Ger­ma­ny for 2022 of 12.4 bil­li­on euros and a per­cen­ta­ge rate app­lied to this in the lower ran­ge of usu­al remu­ne­ra­ti­on rates. Goog­le wants to deci­de on the amount and assess­ment of the pay­ment alo­ne and, in the case of collec­ti­ve rights manage­ment, rejects the usu­al regu­la­ti­on accord­ing to which a per­cen­ta­ge of the reve­nues audi­ted in the annu­al finan­cial state­ments is to be paid to the rights owners by the users as appro­pria­te remu­ne­ra­ti­on. In doing so, Goog­le is attemp­t­ing to dis­re­gard cru­cial mone­ta­ry bene­fits that the com­pa­ny enjoys by dis­play­ing press con­tent. Among other things, press arti­cles are used to eva­lua­te the inte­rests of users for tar­ge­ted adver­ti­sing. In addi­ti­on, the dis­play of press arti­cles with objec­ti­ve and non-adver­ti­sing con­tent gives Google’s pro­ducts a high level of credi­bi­li­ty and thus attrac­ti­ve­ness among Google’s users.

The Bun­des­kar­tell­amt is cur­r­ent­ly inves­ti­ga­ting, among other things, the Goog­le News Show­ca­se pro­duct, which stron­gly affects the enfor­ce­ment of press publis­hers’ right. The Pre­si­dent of the Bun­des­kar­tell­amt, Andre­as Mundt, com­men­ted: “Par­al­lel to the pro­cee­dings on Goog­le News Show­ca­se, we are kee­ping a clo­se eye on the nego­tia­ti­ons on the remu­ne­ra­ti­on of press publis­hers’ rights.” The Office had alrea­dy announ­ced in a preli­mi­na­ry com­mu­ni­ca­ti­on that it was inves­ti­ga­ting Show­ca­se with regard to a self-pre­fe­rence of Goog­le or a dis­ad­van­ta­ge of com­pe­ting offers of third par­ties. A dead­line by which mar­ket par­ti­ci­pants could assess Google’s pro­po­sals to reme­dy the­se con­cerns expi­red on 8 Febru­a­ry 2022. A decisi­on by the Bun­des­kar­tell-amt could reor­der the mar­ket for press licen­ces and par­ti­al­ly redress the imba­lan­ce bet­ween hund­reds of natio­nal press publis­hers and the glo­bal mar­ket domi­na­tor Goog­le. Euro­pean and natio­nal legis­la­tors had crea­ted the legal basis for this mar­ket so that publis­hers could at least par­ti­al­ly miti­ga­te the los­ses cau­sed by the dis­rup­ti­on of the adver­ti­sing mar­ket, among others. Google’s abu­se of its mar­ket power will decisi­ve­ly dama­ge this licen­sing mar­ket. As a major digi­tal dis­tri­bu­ti­on chan­nel, Goog­le is cur­r­ent­ly set­ting pri­ces for press rights without con­tra­dic­tion and exer­ting fur­ther pres­su­re through poo­rer repre­sen­ta­ti­on of tho­se press publi­ca­ti­ons not wil­ling to coope­ra­te with Goog­le. This stra­te­gy is also been shown with the cur­rent offer to Corint Media.

Chris­toph Schwennicke and Mar­kus Run­de, Mana­ging Direc­tors of Corint Media: “Google’s coun­ter-offer of 3.2 mil­li­on euros is a slap in the face for the press in Ger­ma­ny. After Goog­le alo­ne has “taken over” around 40 per­cent of the adver­ti­sing reve­nues of Ger­man publis­hers, it is now offe­ring a pay­ment in the per mil­le ran­ge for the use of press publis­hers’ rights. Goog­le has a total tur­no­ver of 11.3 bil­li­on euros in Ger­ma­ny in 2021 – also thanks to the dis­play of press publi­ca­ti­ons. In view of the­se figu­res, Goog­le does not seem to be inte­res­ted in a sett­le­ment with Corint Media publis­hers. This means that the com­pe­tent aut­ho­ri­ties and courts are now cal­led upon to turn this mar­ket, which has been dis­rup­ted by domi­nan­ce, from its head to its feet. Legis­la­tors will also have to review how to deal with glo­bal cor­po­ra­ti­ons that want to do busi­ness in a reli­able frame­work, but for whom, on the other hand, the rules of law are clear­ly not sup­po­sed to app­ly.”

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