Google was fined $593 million by France’s antitrust authority on Tuesday for failing to negotiate a “good faith” agreement with publishers to cover news on its platform, a win for publishers. media companies fought to offset the drop in ad revenue they attributed to the Silicon Valley giant.
French officials say Google has ignored a 2020 order from French regulators to negotiate licensing agreements with publishers to use short ads from articles in search results. . The case has been closely watched as it represents one of the first attempts to apply a new copyright directive adopted by the European Union to force internet platforms like Google and Facebook to compensate organizations. news about their content.
Isabelle de Silva, president of France’s antitrust agency, said: “When authorities impose orders on companies, they must apply them carefully, respecting the letter and their god”.
Google has two months to come up with new ideas about compensating news publishers or risk an additional fine of up to 900,000 euros, about $1,065 million, per day, French authorities said.
The French decision is the latest flashpoint in the battle between news publishers and internet platforms over the use of news content. In Europe and elsewhere, policymakers have increasingly sided with publishers, who argue that internet companies are profiting from unfair use of their content. Companies like Google and Facebook have argued that they are driving traffic to news sites.
Internet companies have struggled with copyright laws passed earlier this year in Australia that give publishers more bargaining power. It led to a crisis, in which Facebook briefly removed news from its platform for domestic users, before quickly easing it.
As policymakers cracked down, Google tried to work out deals with individual publishers. In October, the company said it would spend more than $1 billion licensing content from international news organizations. And in February, it announced a three-year deal with News Corp., owner of The New York Post and The Wall Street Journal and other prominent news outlets.
Google, which can appeal the fine, said it was “very disappointed” with France’s decision and that it was continuing to negotiate with publishers. “We acted in good faith throughout the entire process,” Google said in a statement. “The fine ignores our efforts to reach agreement and reality about how news works on our platform.”
French authorities say Google has placed unfair restrictions on its negotiations with publishers, including requiring them to participate in the company’s new licensing program, News Showcase. Google has reached agreements with several prominent French news agencies – including Le Monde, L’Obs and Le Figaro – but others have raised concerns about the process.
Google says it is finalizing a global licensing agreement with Agence France-Presse, one of France’s largest media organisations.