One of Google’s most outspoken critics in Europe, German media company Axel Springer AG, has surrendered to the multinational corporation after restricted access caused site traffic to nosedive.

According to German law, Google must secure the rights to publish any content other than links to articles and headlines, which is part of a wider effort to reign in Google across the EU. When Google refused to pay for these rights, instead requesting publishers to offer them free of charge or have their thumbnails and fragments removed from its services, Springer persisted with payment demands.

However, when Google refused to pay and began displaying limited content from Springer sites in late October, search-engine traffic fell about 40% and while traffic from Google’s News section plunged 80%.  

According to The Wall Street Journal, Axel Springer said that continuing to limit Google’s access to four of its websites would cost each of them tens of thousands of euros in revenue every year and the company has now granted Google a free license to use the content from,, and

Axel Springer’s CEO Mathias Doepfner said on Wednesday that the firm would have “shot ourselves out of the market” if it had continued to demand that Google pay licensing fees.