France fines Google 500 million euros over copyright row By Reuters

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A sign can be seen at the entrance to the Google retail store in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York City, United States on June 17, 2021. REUTERS / Shannon Stapleton

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PARIS (Reuters) – France’s antitrust agency fined Alphabet (NASDAQ 🙂 ‘s Google on Tuesday € 500 million ($ 593 million) for failing to follow orders from the regulator to hold talks with the country’s news publishers has about copyright.

The fine comes amid increasing international pressure on online platforms like Google and Facebook (NASDAQ 🙂 to share more revenue with news agencies.

The US technology group must now make proposals within the next two months how it would compensate news agencies and other publishers for the use of their news. If it does not, the company faces additional fines of up to 900,000 euros per day.

Google said it was very disappointed with the decision but will comply.

“Our goal remains the same: We want to turn the tide with a definitive agreement. We will take the feedback from the French competition authority into account and adapt our offers,” said the US technology giant.

A Google spokesperson added, “We have acted in good faith throughout the process. The fine ignores our efforts to reach an agreement and the reality of how news works on our platforms.”

The news publishers APIG, SEPM and AFP accuse the technology company of having failed to hold talks with them in good faith in order to find a common basis for the remuneration of news content on the Internet, according to a current directive of the European Union, the so-called Creates “neighbor rights”.

The case itself focused on whether Google violated interim orders from the antitrust agency, which required such discussions with news publishers who request it to take place within three months.

“When the authority orders an obligation for a company, it has to scrupulously comply with the spirit and the wording (of the decision). Unfortunately, this was not the case here, ”said the head of the antitrust authority, Isabelle de Silva, in a statement. She also said that the regulator believes that Google has not acted in good faith in its negotiations with the publishers.

APIG, which represents most of the major French print media like Le Figaro and Le Monde, remains one of the plaintiffs despite signing a framework agreement with Google earlier this year, sources told Reuters. This framework agreement was put on hold until the antitrust decision, according to the sources.

The framework agreement, criticized by many other French media, was one of the best-known deals in the context of Google’s “News Showcase” program to compensate for news snippets used in search results and the first of its kind in Europe.

Google agreed to pay a group of 121 French news publishers $ 76 million over three years to end the copyright battle, according to Reuters’ inspection documents.

This was followed by months of negotiations between Google, French publishers and news agencies about the application of the revised EU copyright rules, which allow publishers to charge a fee from online platforms showing extracts of their news.

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