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Google will pay partnered media publishers in three countries and offer some users free access to paywalled news sites, the tech giant said on Thursday.

The announcement comes after legal battles in France and Australia over Google's refusal to pay news organizations for content.

In a blog post, the firm said they would launch "a licensing program to pay publishers for high-quality content for a new news experience", later this year.

Brad Bender, Google's vice-president of product management, said they had been in discussions with partnered publishers -- including the Spiegel Group in Germany, Schwartz media in Australia and Brazil's Diarios Associados -- for several months, "with more to come."

"Google will also offer to pay for free access for users to read paywalled articles on a publisher's site," the statement said, without offering any further details.

Bender said the program will help publishers "monetize their content through an enhanced storytelling experience."

He added it would build on the 2018 Google News Initiative, a $300 million project that aimed to tackle disinformation online and help news sites grow financially.

A number of European and global publications, including AFP, have called on the European Union to adopt laws requiring internet companies to pay for the material they produce.

In April, France's competition regulator said the firm must start paying media groups for displaying their content, ordering it to begin negotiations after refusing to comply with Europe's new digital copyright law for months.

And earlier this month, Google rejected an Australian ruling that it pay hundreds of millions of dollars per year in compensation to local news media under a government-imposed revenue sharing deal.

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text.

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