Google was fined € 500 million, or $ 593 million, Tuesday by French antitrust authorities for failing to negotiate a “good faith” deal with publishers to spread news on its platform about a decline in advertising revenue , which they attribute to the Silicon Valley giant.
French officials said Google ignored a 2020 order from French regulators to negotiate a licensing agreement with publishers to use short blurbs from articles in search results. The case has been followed closely as it is one of the first attempts to apply a new European Union copyright directive that would force Internet platforms such as Google and Facebook to compensate news organizations for their content.
“When the authority imposes injunctions on companies, they must apply them conscientiously and respect their letters and their spirit,” said Isabelle de Silva, President of the French antitrust authority, in a statement.
Google has two months to come up with new ideas to compensate news publishers or risk further fines of up to 900,000 euros, about $ 1.065 million a day, French authorities said.
The French decision is the latest in a 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 benefit from the improper use of their content. Companies like Google and Facebook have argued that they are driving traffic to the news websites.
Internet companies battled a copyright law passed in Australia earlier this year that gave publishers more room to negotiate. It resulted in a showdown with Facebook momentarily removing messages from its platform for users in the country before quickly giving way.
While policymakers crack down on it, Google has been trying to reach agreements with individual publishers. In October, the company announced that it had more than $ 1 billion for licensing Content from international news agencies. And in February it announced a three-year deal with News Corp, the owner of The New York Post, The Wall Street Journal, and other well-known news outlets.
Google, which can appeal the fine, said it was “very disappointed” with the French decision and was continuing to negotiate with publishers. “We acted in good faith throughout the process,” Google said in a statement. “The fine ignores our efforts to reach an agreement and the reality of how news works on our platforms.”
French authorities said Google had placed unfair restrictions on its negotiations with publishers, including an obligation to participate in the company’s new licensing program, News Showcase. Google had reached an agreement with a few prominent French news outlets – including Le Monde, L’Obs, and Le Figaro – but others raised concerns about the process.
Google said it is entering into a global licensing agreement with Agence France-Presse, one of France’s largest media companies.