Google in talks to pay publishers for content in premium news product

Talks are in the early stages and it's unclear if agreements will be reached

Alphabet Inc.’s Google is in talks with publishers about paying a licensing fee for content that would be in a premium news product, according to people familiar with the matter, a move that would mark a shift in the search giant’s relationship with news organizations.

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Talks are early, and it’s unclear if agreements will be reached, the people said. Most of the publishers in talks with Google are outside the U.S., including in France and Europe, one of the people said.

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Financial terms of the possible licensing agreements being considered couldn’t be learned.

“We want to help people find quality journalism—it’s important to informed democracy and helps support a sustainable news industry,” Google said in a statement. “We care deeply about this and are talking with partners and looking at more ways to expand our ongoing work with publishers, building on programmes like our Google News Initiative.”

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Licensing deals between Google and news organizations for its news product would be a watershed moment for publishers, who have long sought compensation from the search giant. Google sends news organizations huge amounts of traffic each month through its search engine but has so far resisted paying news organizations for their content directly.

Google would be the second tech giant to move toward paying publishers. Last year, Facebook Inc. said it would pay news organizations -- in some cases millions of dollars a year -- to license their headlines and story summaries for a news tab.