After months of pushback and meetings, Google has finally struck a deal with the Canadian government over the enactment of Bill C-18, which is expected to come into effect in about two weeks.
“Following weeks of productive discussions, I am happy to announce that we have found a path forward with Google for the implementation of the Online News Act,” said Heritage Minister Pascale St-Onge. “This will benefit the news sector and allow Google to continue to play an important role in giving Canadians access to reliable news content.”
The legislation, which received Royal Assent in June, forces Google and Meta to enter into agreements with news publishers to pay them for linking to their content.
Meta, has as a result, blocked news links in Canada. Google threatened to do the same, but also expressed interest in working out a resolution with the government.
As part of the agreement, Google will contribute C$100 million in financial support annually, indexed to inflation, for a wide range of news businesses across the country, including independent news businesses and those from Indigenous and official-language minority communities.
This is lower than what the government initially estimated, whereby it proposed a formula forcing Google and Meta to cough up four per cent of their annual Canadian search revenue, or C$172 and C$62 million, respectively. That remained unpalatable to Google, which insisted on a firm cap on its financial liability.
“We thank the Minister of Canadian Heritage, Pascale St-Onge, for acknowledging our concerns and deeply engaging in a series of productive meetings about how they might be addressed, ” said Kent Walker, president, global affairs, Google.
Another win for Google is the option to work with a single collective to distribute its contribution to all interested eligible news businesses. That would help the company limit its arbitration risk.
“We’re pleased we will be able to continue sending valuable traffic to Canadian publishers while we are in the process of receiving an exemption based on agreed upon contributions to support the Canadian news ecosystem,” said Google.
The government has not resumed talks with Meta, and news links remain blocked on Facebook and Instagram.