September 27, 2021

Google sentenced in France to pay a fine of 500 million euros

This is the ‘heaviest fine’ ever imposed by the Competition Authority for this reason. The French competition gendarme imposed, Tuesday, July 13, a fine of 500 million euros on Google for not having negotiated ‘in good faith’ with the press editors on the application of neighboring rights, that is, that is, the remuneration due to publishers for the recovery of their content.

The Competition Authority has also ordered Google to ‘present an offer of remuneration for the current uses of their protected content’ to publishers and press agencies, under penalty ‘of being subject to penalties of up to 900,000 euros per day of delay’.

‘We are very disappointed with this decision’

‘We are very disappointed with this decision because we have acted in good faith throughout the negotiation period. This fine does not reflect the efforts put in place, nor the reality of the use of news content on our platform, ‘reacted a Google spokesperson to AFP.

‘This decision relates mainly to the negotiations that took place between May and September 2020. Since then, we have continued to work with publishers and news agencies to find common ground,’ Google said in this reaction.

In April 2020, Google was forced by the Competition Authority to open negotiations for a period of three months with press editors, and press agencies like AFP, on neighboring rights. But press editors and AFP seized the Competition Authority in September 2020, believing that Google was not respecting its obligations.

On the merits, the Authority reproaches Google in particular for having tried to place the negotiations on the ground of Google Showcase, a new service offered by Google, by refusing to ‘have a specific discussion’ on neighboring rights, a concept created by a European directive of 2019.

‘In addition, Google unjustifiably restricted the scope of the negotiation, by refusing to include in it the content of the press agencies taken up by publications (images for example), and by excluding all the non-IPG press ( political and general information press) ‘of the discussion, indicated the President of the Authority, Isabelle de Silva.

The Authority also accuses Google of not having communicated to publishers and press agencies ‘the information necessary for a transparent assessment of the remuneration due’.

Google has limited itself to providing information on the ‘direct advertising revenue generated’ by the search engine service ‘to the exclusion of all revenue, in particular indirect, linked to the use of this content’, a indicated the Authority.