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Internet

Google agrees to help France develop web presence

Internet giant Google has settled a long-running revenue dispute with the French government. The French media is to receive millions in an effort to bolster its Internet presence.

French President Francois Hollande and Google's executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, signed an agreement on Friday in which the Internet giant will pay 60 million euros ($82 million) in online development projects, according to the president's office.

"France is proud to have reached this agreement with Google, the first of its kind in the world," Hollande said following the deal.

While Friday's agreement won't funnel advertising revenue to French media, the new fund will aim to "help the news press transition to the digital world," according to the French president.

At the heart of the dispute was Google's refusal to pay French publishers licensing fees for listing headlines and publishing parts of articles. The news media argued that it should also receive revenue fees.

By October, each side threatened the other with costly consequences. If Google refused to reach a deal, Hollande said he would propose a law that would force the world's leading search engine to pay for posting links. Google, for its part, threatened to exclude French newspapers from its links if the law were implemented.

Initial reports on Friday did not detail how the money would be distributed, nor how the government envisioned its use.

Google reached a similar settlement with Belgian publishers late last year, but is currently struggling to reach a compromise with Germany.

kms/hc (AFP, Reuters)