Sun, August 14, 2022

France’s antitrust watchdog fines Google 500 mln euro


On Tuesday, France’s antitrust watchdog fined Alphabet’s Google 593 million euros. In a dispute with the country’s news publishers, the company had a fine for failing to comply with temporary orders issued by the regulator entirely. After refusing to comply with a 2019 EU law governing digital copyright, the French competition authority ordered Google to negotiate “in good faith” with media groups in April 2020.

Within the next two months, the US tech group must submit proposals on how it will compensate news organizations and other publishers to use their content. If it fails to do so, the company could face daily fines of increase to 900,000 euros. Google expressed its dissatisfaction with the decision. Throughout the entire process, we have acted in good faith, according to a Google spokesperson. Google is the only company that has announced deals on neighboring rights so far.

The APIG, SEPM, and AFP news organizations have accused the tech company. They fail to open good-faith talks with them to find common ground for the remuneration of online news content under a recent European Union directive that creates so-called neighboring rights.

Antitrust authority

The case itself focused on whether Google violated antitrust authority temporary orders. That required such talks with any news publishers who requested them to take place within three months.

When the authority imposes an obligation on a company, it must strictly adhere to it, both in spirit and in letter (of the decision). Unfortunately, this was not the case here, said the antitrust body’s chief, Isabelle de Silva, in a statement.

Google and AFP

Google and AFP are close to an agreement on the issue, according to a joint statement issued Tuesday. The statement was made by the news agency’s chief executive Fabrice Fries and Google’s France director Sebastien Missoffe.

The company has defended itself further against claims that it contributes to the demise of traditional media by pointing to its other forms of support for news outlets, such as emergency funding during the Covid-19 crisis. However, the company is coming under increasing pressure from regulators worldwide. As concerns grow, media outlets will find it increasingly difficult to hold those in power accountable with such chronic underfunding.

Australia has taken one of the most aggressive stances. They demand that Google and Facebook pay media organizations when their platforms host their content. Failure to do so will result in fines of up to millions of dollars.

As a result of the landmark legislation, Google and Facebook signed multi-million dollar deals with Australian media companies.


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