Reports claim French government wants Google taxed for links

Posted Oct 31, 2012 by Andrew Moran
French Socialist President Francois Hollande warned Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt that the government may tax the web search giant for displaying links to news articles unless it agrees to a deal with French news outlets.
Raul Ochoa
Le Monde first reported Tuesday of the French government possibly imposing legislation that would tax Internet search engines for posting French media content. Hollande apparently made these remarks during a meeting with Schmidt at the Elysee Palace this week.
The Google executive responded that it would simply omit French media organizations from its list of links to news websites if France would force companies to pay for links. President Hollande noted that he hopes the matter can be concluded by the end of the year.
Bloomberg News reports, however, that the $1 billion tax claim was never discussed.
“Google has not received any tax assessment from the French tax administration,” the Internet search engine behemoth noted in an email to the New York news agency. “We have and will continue to cooperate with the authorities in France.”
Other European countries are also demanding similar taxes. German and Italian press associations are insisting on some of the advertising revenue that Google and other search engines generate.
According to Agence-France Presse, Schmidt also met with Communication and Culture Minister Aurelie Filippetti, but the contents of that meeting have not been disclosed. However, Filippetti did tell a local radio show that it’s not a “lost cause.”
“This European drive will not allow us to be penniless. We must not think that all the fights against Internet giants are a lost cause,” stated Filippetti. “[It’s] only normal that big search engines contribute to finance the press.”
French Technology Minister Fleur Pellerin explained that the nation doesn’t want to appear as against Google because it’s a fantastic tool and is important in this digital age, but he wants to encourage the industry to initiate negotiations.
“What I would suggest -- and what I'm going to suggest to Google and to the press -- is to start negotiating, to start discussions for maybe three months, and try to find an agreement on a negotiated basis. And if they don't, well we'll see,” said Pellerin in an interview with Quartz.
Google posts approximately four billion hits per month across the globe and garnered nearly $38 billion in revenue last year. It has more than 53,000 employees and maintains offices all across the United States, including New York City, Austin, Washington, Cambridge and Atlanta.