French regulator hits Google with 250-mn-euro fine

French regulator hits Google with 250-mn-euro fine

Google and other online platforms have been accused of making billions from news without sharing the revenue with those who gather it
Google and other online platforms have been accused of making billions from news without sharing the revenue with those who gather it. Photo: Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV / AFP/File
Source: AFP

French regulators said Wednesday they were fining Google 250 million euros ($272 million) for breaching commitments on paying media companies for reproducing their content online and using their material for its AI chatbot without telling them.

Google and other online platforms have been accused of making billions from news without sharing the revenue with those who gather it.

To tackle this, the EU created in 2019 a form of copyright called "neighbouring rights" that allows print media to demand compensation for using their content.

France has been a test case for the rules and after initial resistance Google and Facebook both agreed to pay some French media for articles shown in web searches.

Organisations representing French magazines and newspapers -- as well as Agence France-Presse (AFP) -- had lodged a case with France's Competition Authority in 2019.

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Two years later, the watchdog fined Google 500 million euros for failing to negotiate in good faith.

In 2022, the authority accepted commitments from Google to negotiate fairly with news organisations.

Under the agreement, the US tech giant has to provide news groups with a transparent offer of payment within three months of receiving a copyright complaint.

AI chatbot

But the regulator said Wednesday it was imposing the new fine on Google for "failing to respect commitments made in 2022" and not negotiating in "good faith" with news publishers.

The US tech giant also used content from press agencies to train its artificial intelligence platform -- Bard (now known as Gemini) -- without notifying them or the authority, the regulator said.

Google failed to provide publishers and news agencies a technical solution allowing them to object to the use of their content, "hindering" their ability to negotiate remuneration, it added.

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The watchdog said Google had agreed to "not dispute the facts" as part of the settlement process and proposed "a series of corrective measures" in response to the failings identified by the authority.

Other European Union countries have also challenged Google over news content.

Spain's competition watchdog launched an investigation into Google last year for alleged anti-competitive practices affecting news agencies and press publications.

In 2022, Germany's antitrust regulator shelved an investigation into Google's News Showcase service, after the tech giant made "important adjustments" to ease competition concerns.

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Source: AFP

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