LONDON -- Google said Wednesday it will tweak how it shows previews for news stories in France but won't pay license fees to publishers when the country brings in new European Union copyright rules.
The U.S. tech giant will stop showing a snippet — a few lines of text — and a small thumbnail photo for articles by European publishers seen in France, as it currently does for some news results.
The change will take effect in late October, when France becomes the first EU country to adopt the bloc's directive, aimed at modernizing copyright rules, into national law.
One of the EU directive's more controversial parts was a requirement that search engines pay for offering up snippets of news articles. Using anything more than a single word or "very short extracts" of an article would require payment.
Offering no snippets of the story means Google can avoid paying fees to publishers, unless it gets permission to show them for free.
"We don't pay for links to be included in search results," Richard Gingras, Google's vice president of news, said on a conference call with reporters. "Doing so would not only skew the options we might provide but it would ultimately undermine the trust users have in how search and news work on Google."
The EU copyright directive was aimed at giving writers and artists more protection of their creative rights and incomes. News companies, concerned about maintaining quality journalism, had pushed for the reform amid slumping revenue at traditional media organizations.
But tech companies and digital rights campaigners criticized it over worries it would lead to censorship. Google had lobbied strongly against the directive, saying that removing previews would lead to a drop in traffic to publishers' websites.
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