The fine is for not negotiating in good faith for licensing deals with French publishers over reuse of their copyrighted content


Google has been fined €500m by the French competition authority for breaching its April 2020 ruling. (Credit: Outreach Pete/Wikimedia Commons)

Autorité de la concurrence, the French competition authority, has imposed a €500m fine on Google for non-compliance with an order to negotiate fair deals with news publishers for using their content.

The regulator said that the internet giant had violated an April 2020 ruling that ordered it to undertake negotiations in good faith for licensing deals with news agencies and publishers for any reuse of their copyrighted content.

Earlier this year, the company had agreed to a $76m digital copyright deal with French publishers. Under the terms of the deal, Google agreed to negotiate individual licenses with members of the French press alliance regarding related rights and access to its News Showcase service.

The French competition authority said that the internet major had disregarded various injunctions issued in its April 2020 ruling.

It also ordered Google to come up with a remuneration offer for the ongoing use of the copyrighted content to press publishers and agencies that had referred the case to it. The regulator also asked the company to give them the required information for assessing such an offer.

Failing to comply within two months, the company will be imposed periodic penalty payment of up to €900,000 per day of delay, said the regulator.

Autorité de la concurrence president Isabelle de Silva said: “First of all, Google’s negotiations with press publishers and agencies cannot be regarded as having been conducted in good faith, while Google imposed that the discussions necessarily take place within the framework of a new partnership, called Publisher Curated News, which included a new service called Showcase.

“In doing so, Google refused, as it has been asked on several occasions, to have a specific discussion on the remuneration due for current uses of content protected by related rights.”

De Silva said that the company had also unjustifiably limited the scope of the negotiation by not agreeing to include content from certain press agencies.

Besides, Google had excluded publishers without political and general information certificates (non-IPG press) from the discussion although they are impacted by the new law and their content is also associated with substantial revenues for the company, said de Silva.

Responding to the fine imposed on it, Google said that it is very disappointed with the regulator’s decision, but will comply with its ruling.