You may have seen in the news that, as a result of Canada’s Bill C-18, we will be removing links to Canadian news from our Search, News and Discover products in Canada, and will no longer be able to operate Google News Showcase in the country when the law goes into effect. We don’t take this decision lightly but the bill creates an unprecedented requirement that platforms pay for simply showing links to news, something that everyone else does for free. This creates uncertainty for our products and exposes us to uncapped financial liability simply for facilitating access to news.
We’re disappointed it has come to this but we have been clear that unworkable legislation could lead to changes to the availability of news on Google’s products in Canada.
We wanted to share context on this decision and address questions about our approach to news.
Our approach to regulation
We share the belief of many policymakers that a vibrant journalism industry is important and are committed to doing our part to support a sustainable, independent and diverse news ecosystem. We take a principled approach to assessing proposed laws, considering whether they respect the open web and the free expression it enables, whether they impact our ability to provide people who use our products relevant, authoritative, diverse sources of information, and whether they allow us to operate with the clarity any business requires. We’ve detailed some of our balanced and constructive public policy ideas to support sustainable, quality journalism and aim to work with governments on approaches that best fit each market.
Whether it’s Bill C-18 in Canada or proposed laws in other jurisdictions, when efforts to support journalism conflict with the core principles of the open web and undermine our products, we have to adjust how we operate. This has played out in different ways around the world:
Since 2019, the European Copyright Directive (EUCD) allows search engines to freely link to and use “short extracts” of news publishers’ content and creates new undefined rights for publishers when longer extracts are used. Our compliance program licenses content from European publishers for our Search and News products. So far, we’ve reached commercial agreements covering over 1,500 publications of all sizes across 15 EU countries and are continuing to work on others. The Spanish government’s transposition of the EUCD in 2022 also ended an earlier requirement of a 2014 law to pay for links to news content in that country, enabling us to relaunch Google News after an eight-year hiatus.
In 2021, Australia’s News Media Bargaining Code became law after a spirited debate and our constructive engagement with the government. While we have long held that the Australian Code is a problematic law that should not be replicated, it has never been applied to any platform.
Only “designated” platforms are subject to the Code, and the government must take into account the full scope of a platform’s contribution to Australian news before designation. This encourages platforms and publishers to negotiate direct commercial partnerships in whatever form works best for their businesses. In Australia, partnerships with publishers for Google News Showcase offered a commercial and productive approach to address the objectives of the law, while ensuring our news products continue to be available. The government recognized these partnerships and hasn’t designated Google.
We often hear proponents claim that the Australian model works because it hasn’t “broken the internet,” but its provisions are actually untested. Other proposals modeling the Code are often based on a misperception of what it does and how it’s been implemented.
In 2022, the Czech Republic’s transposition of Article 15 of EUCD went far beyond the provisions of the European Directive, creating disproportionate financial and operational risks for us. We were left with no choice but to remove previews from news publisher content, though we were able to retain links and headlines, which were unaffected by the law. We also regrettably shut down News Showcase and terminated the content licenses and commercial partnerships we had reached with Czech publishers to provide content for that product. If the law changes, we hope to make our services fully available again.
Earlier this year in Taiwan, working with government and industry, we announced a new Digital Co-prosperity Fund to support the digital future of the news ecosystem. We heard from publishers and policymakers in Taiwan that digital transformation was a key objective to ensure sustainability and future growth of the news industry. Administered by the Digital Transformation Association and supported by the Ministry of Digital Affairs and key industry partners, the fund will help publishers of all sizes build a digital foundation, expand their reach and improve audience engagement, as well as grow the diversity and quality of digital journalistic content for Taiwanese news readers.
Supporting the news industry
Through our programs, partnerships and products, we’re one of the world’s largest financial supporters of journalism. Our products link people to publishers’ websites more than 24 billion times each month — for free — and we offer subscription tools and ad technology to help publishers monetize this traffic. Google News Showcase, our licensing program and product experience for news organizations, operates in 22 countries with more than 2,300 participating publications. And through the Google News Initiative, we’ve partnered with more than 7,000 news publishers and counting around the world to provide training, tools and funding to journalists and newsrooms to help strengthen their work in the digital age.
From local and regional news outlets to national and global perspectives, we provide people with access to diverse journalism to help them better understand the world. We’re also continuing to create new products and tools to strengthen access to local news, provide access to a diverse range of sources, and address misinformation and help publishers expand and deepen connections with their audiences.
We remain committed to working with publishers, governments and civil society to build a diverse, sustainable, and innovative future for news, both in Canada and around the world. We hope this helps people better understand our approach to news regulation.