Google and the French news agency Agence France-Presse have agreed on a licensing deal that will see Google start paying for use of AFP’s news content—a significant step in a years-long effort by French news publishers and regulators to bring the tech giant to the bargaining table.

Both parties declined to disclose the financial terms of the deal, which was announced late Wednesday. It will run for an initial period of five years and covers fees by Google for the display of AFP content on its services, including the Google search engine, in all European Union states.

“This is the fruit of two years of effort, in many stages of litigation and negotiation,” Julien Guinot-Délery, a media partner at Gide Loyrette Nouel, who represented AFP, told International.

The French Association of News Agencies, which groups agencies representing photo, audiovisual and magazine publishers, hailed the AFP accord as “opening the way to payment” for the use of content from “all other press agencies.”

News organizations around the world, which have been losing ad revenue to online aggregators such as Google and Facebook, have complained for years about the tech companies using stories in search results or other features without payment.

The AFP accord follows a 2019 EU directive and a subsequent French copyright law that created “neighboring rights,” requiring tech companies to open talks with news publishers over payment for use of their content.

Google had resisted entering into talks, initially presenting news publishers with a choice between making their content available to Google free of charge or not seeing it used at all on Google platforms.

The dispute unfolded before competition regulators because of Google’s dominant positions in news search and online ad sales in France.

In July, the French Competition Authority fined Google €500 million for failure to comply with 2020 injunctions to negotiate in good faith with the publishers.

The search engine giant has also tussled with Australian news publishers over rights to their content, as has Facebook.

Gide competition partner Antoine Choffel represented AFP alongside Guinot-Deléry.

Google was represented by Allen & Overy competition partner Florence Ninane.

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