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PARIS: Google and French newspapers said Thursday they had signed an agreement aimed at opening the way to digital copyright payments from the online giant after months of heated negotiations.

The accord signed with the APIG alliance of French dailies involves "neighbouring rights," which call for payment for showing news content with internet searches, a joint statement said.

It said the agreement sets a framework for Google to negotiate individual licence agreements with newspapers on the payments and will give papers access to its new News Showcase programme, which sees it pay publishers for a selection of enriched content.

Payments are to be calculated individually and will be based on criteria including internet viewing figures and the amount of information published.

The deal covers papers that carry "political and general news", the statement said.

APIG head Pierre Louette, who is also CEO of the Les Echos of the Le Parisien newspaper group, said the deal amounts to the "effective recognition of neighbouring rights for the press and the start of their remuneration by digital platforms for the use of their publications online".

Google France chief Sebastien Missoffe called the deal proof of a "commitment" that opens up "new perspectives."

The statement included no information about the monetary value involved, and both APIG and Google declined to give financial details when contacted by AFP.

News outlets struggling with dwindling print subscriptions have long seethed at Google's failure to give them a cut of the millions it makes from ads displayed alongside news search results. The Covid-19 crisis has hurt sales even further.

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