Image Credit: Reuters

Paris: Facebook said Thursday it had reached an agreement with some French newspapers to pay for news content shared by its users, months after Google announced plans to renumerate them for articles shown in web searches.

Facebook said the licensing agreement with the APIG alliance of national and regional newspapers “means that people on Facebook will be able to continue uploading and sharing news stories freely amongst their communities, whilst also ensuring that the copyright of our publishing partners is protected.”

News outlets struggling with dwindling print subscriptions have long seethed at the failure of Google particularly to give it a cut of the millions it makes from ads displayed alongside news stories.

In January, Google said it had reached a draft agreement with APIG to pay publishers for a selection of content shown in its searches.

The deal was seen as a victory for France’s battle to protect the publishing rights of the press and news agencies.

France was the first country in the EU to enact a 2019 EU directive on these so-called neighbouring rights, but Google initially refused to comply, saying media groups already benefit by receiving millions of visits to their websites.

Facebook said that, beside paying for French content, it would also launch a French news service, Facebook News, in January to “give people a dedicated space to access content from trusted and reputable news sources.”

British newspapers including the Guardian signed up last year to a programme in which Facebook pays to license articles that appear on a dedicated news section on the social media site, The Guardian reported. Separately, in July Guardian Australia struck a deal with Facebook to license news content.

Pierre Louette, the head of the media group Les Echos-Le Parisien, led the alliance of newspapers who negotiated as a group with Facebook. He said the agreement was “the result of an outspoken and fruitful dialogue between publishers and a leading digital platform”. He said the terms agreed would allow Facebook to implement French law “while generating significant funding” for news publishers, notably the smallest ones, The Guardian reported.

Facebook reached deals with most of Australia’s largest media companies earlier this year. Nine Entertainment, which includes the Sydney Morning Herald and the Age, said in its annual report that it was expecting “strong growth in the short-term” from its deals with Facebook and Google.

- with inputs from The Guardian