Google hit with $592M fine over failed copyright negotiations with news publishers

France’s competition authority said the tech giant did not attempt to negotiate compensation with publishers “in good faith”.

Google is accused of failing to negotiate in good faith with news publishers.

Google is once again in the firing line over its relationship with news publishers. The French competition authority on Tuesday issued a fine of 500 million euros ($592M) to the company, believing it had not engaged in “good faith” with news publishers.

France was one of the first European countries to implement the EU Copyright Directive, which went into effect in 2019 and allows publishers to request remuneration for displaying their content in action. Last year, the country told Google it must negotiate license fees with publishers or face penalties. But a coalition of French news publishers complained to the competition authority that the company was not complying with orders.

This is far from Google’s first run-in with news publishers. The company has been locked into ongoing negotiations with publishers around the world over the way it displays snippets of copyrighted material in search results – also known as neighbor rights.

“We hoped that the negotiations would be fruitful and the actors would play the game. Google still does not approve the law as it was voted down, but it is not up to an actor to rewrite the law, even. That’s not even a major one, the authority’s president, Isabel de Silva, told Politico.

The authority rejected Google’s attempts to negotiate as in good faith, due to a number of conditions the company had attached to reach a solution. These include: seeking to discuss partnerships only in the context of their own news product, called Showcase, to take into account indirect revenue generated by press materials for remuneration, and refusing to negotiate with those companies. which is “general and political information”.

“We are deeply disappointed by this decision – we have acted in good faith throughout the process,” a Google spokesperson said in a statement. “The fines ignore our efforts to reach an agreement and the reality of how news works on our platform. To date, Google is the only company that has announced agreements on neighbor rights.”

Google also said that it is close to finalizing a deal with French news agency AFP that includes a global licensing agreement.

Based on Tuesday’s ruling in France, the company now has two more months to develop proposals on how it plans to compensate publishers or face an additional fine of 900,000 euros ($1 million) per day. making.

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