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Google will pay Murdoch-owned News Corp for the right to distribute some of its content

Google on Wednesday struck a deal with Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp to pay the news publisher when posting some of its stories across its vast online empire, underscoring an ongoing shift in the years-long battle over whether tech giants should pay for news.

The deal is part of Google’s News Showcase product, which lets publishers choose which of their stories are promoted on special sections of Google’s apps and search pages. But the deal with News Corp falls short of applying to news stories catalogued by Google and linked to in regular search results, the most popular way people currently come to news stories online — and the target of a proposed law in Australia that would force Facebook and Google to pay for linking to news articles. Facebook in response said Wednesday that it would prevent Australian news stories from appearing on its site.

Stories from the Wall Street Journal, the New York Post, the Sunday Times and other News Corp publications from the United Kingdom and Australia will show up in special panels on the Google News app, on the search home screen on mobile phones and on Google News on desktop computers. The deal does not include Fox News, Google spokeswoman Maggie Shiels said. It covers a limited number of countries, including Australia, the U.K., France and Germany. The companies are in discussions to expand the program to the United States, Shiels said.

Google has struck similar deals with Reuters and regional news companies in the countries where it’s operational, including another major Australian publisher. The companies won’t say how much the deals are worth, but Google has set aside $ 1 billion for such deals worldwide over the next three years.

Google is the latest tech giant to come around to the idea of beginning to pay for some news. Apple strikes deals with publishers who participate in its Apple News Plus service. Facebook also pays certain publishers for posting stories on its dedicated news tab.

“News Showcase now has partnerships with over 500 publications around the world, demonstrating the value this product can bring to our news partners and readers everywhere,” Google President of Global Partnerships Don Harrison said in a statement. “We hope to announce even more partnerships soon.”

In a news release, News Corp called the deal a “historic” success that would lead to “significant” payments to the company.

“For many years, we were accused of tilting at tech windmills,” said News Corp CEO Robert Thomson. “But what was a solitary campaign, a quixotic quest, has become a movement, and both journalism and society will be enhanced.”

News Corp has aggressively lobbied against Google around the world. In the United States, it has pushed state and federal regulators to make changes in the digital advertising industry, which Google dominates and which is a key source of revenue for both companies. Google has raised concerns about a former News Corp consultant helping advise Texas on its antitrust lawsuit against the search giant.

The Australian government is expected to pass a landmark law this month forcing Google and Facebook to negotiate payments to news publishers for showing their stories in search results and on social media feeds. News Corp is one of Australia’s biggest media owners and has been a driving force in lobbying for the legislation. Facebook said Wednesday that it was going ahead with a threat it had made to stop both regular Australians and news organizations in the country from posting stories on the site. Google has threatened to pull its search engine out of Australia if the law isn’t changed.

The biggest sticking point for Google is that the new law would apply to links to news articles in general search results. Throughout its two-decade history, the company has steadfastly refused to pay the websites it links to, saying that it must be an impartial librarian of the Internet and that the concept of a free and open Web would break down if it was forced to start paying.

“The law would unfairly require unknown payments for simply showing links to news businesses, while giving, to a favored few, special previews of search ranking,” Kent Walker, Google’s top global policy executive, said in a Feb. 11 blog post. “Those aren’t workable solutions and would fundamentally change the Internet.”

News Showcase is Google’s attempt to sidestep that problem, by creating a separate product that looks and feels different from search results. It’s part of a broader trend at Google of moving away from traditional blue links and adding more curated content, some of it paid for, in search results.

The deals don’t mean the new law isn’t necessary, Josh Frydenberg, Australia’s treasurer and a senior member of the government’s cabinet, told reporters Wednesday. “None of these deals would be happening if we didn’t have the legislation before the Parliament,” Frydenberg said. “…This world-leading mandatory code is bringing the parties to the table and is helping to pave a way forward where news media businesses are getting paid for generating original journalistic content.”

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