Google announced today that Search, News, and Discover will be “removing links to Canadian news publications” in response to a new law.
Update 11/29: Google and Canada have reached a deal to avoid removing links to Canadian news publications from Discover, News, and Search over the “link tax” legislation. This agreement (via CBC) involves Google making annual payments of about $100 million CAD, or around $73.5 million USD, to Canadian news companies. Google will now be able to negotiate with a single group that represents all publications, which limits arbitration risk. With this deal, Google says its core issues with the bill have been addressed.
Original 6/29: This applies only in Canada, with global users of Google products continuing to see Canadian news sites.
Bill C-18 imposes a “link tax” wherein Google (and Meta) have to pay for showing links to Canadian news publications. Google says this “breaks the way the web and search engines work,” arguing that “when you put a price on linking to information, you no longer have a free and open web.”
The company says its products linked to Canadian news publishers over 3.6 billion times last year and that this “free traffic drove an estimated $250 million CAD worth of value” to those sites through ads and subscriptions.
Following Meta last week, Google informed the Canadian government today of its decision, with the removal happening when the law takes effect in the coming months. Additionally, News Showcase — where the company pays publishers to license content for Google News — will be shutting down in Canada.
Google has held talks with the government but said it does not “believe that the regulatory process will be able to resolve structural issues with the legislation.”
This is reminiscent of a similar situation in Australia two years ago, but that law allowed Google and Meta to negotiate direct deals with publishers (via CBC), so a link tax was avoided. There is no such exemption here, with Google noting in a FAQ that it’s “willing to pay to support journalism in Canada” and does so through programs like News Showcase.
Google is not making any changes to SOS alerts and will continue to surface safety information (e.g., forest fires, floods, and earthquakes) in Search and other relevant products.
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…. to be continued
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