France’s competition regulator fined Google 500 million Euros (Rs 3700 crore) for failing to negotiate with media companies to use their content under European Union copyright rules.
The competition authority’s chief, Isabelle De Silva, told reporters that it was the largest fine the authority had ever imposed on a company for failing to follow one of its rulings.
According to the judgement, in addition to the fine, the authority directed the US tech company to provide media publishers with “an offer of remuneration for the current use of their copyrighted content,” and if this was not done, they could face additional damages of up to 900,000 Euros per day.
Google’s spokesperson expressed disappointment with the decision and stated that the company acted in good faith throughout the entire negotiation period.
This fine does not reflect the efforts made, nor the reality of the use of news content on our platform, according to a Google spokesperson, who added that the decision is based primarily on negotiations that occurred in 2020 between May and September.
We have continued to work with publishers and news organisations to find common ground since then, according to the spokesperson.
The legal dispute between the authority and Google was based on claims that the company displayed articles, images, and videos produced by media groups during search results without compensating those media groups.
After failing to comply with a new EU digital copyright law, the authority directed Google to negotiate with media groups “in good faith” in April 2020.
‘Neighboring rights’ in the law seek to ensure that news publishers and media publishers are fairly compensated when their work is displayed on websites, search engine results, or social media platforms.
Many new publishers, including Agence France-Presse, filed a complaint against Google in September 2020, claiming that the company refused to pay to display content in web searches.
The authority also chastised the company for its new feature Google Showcase News Service, claiming that the feature was not discussed with news or media publishers.
News and media publishers, particularly independent outlets, have been struggling financially, and their print subscriptions have not been enough to sustain them due to fewer people subscribing, and they have expressed their displeasure with Google’s refusal to give them a portion of the revenue it earns from ads displayed on their websites and in search results.
As a counterargument, Google stated that it encourages millions of people to visit media and news websites and that it has helped media organisations in a variety of ways, including providing funding during the pandemic.
The company announced in November that it had signed individual agreements on copyright payments with French newspapers and magazines such as Le Monde and Le Figaro.