Google slapped with €500M fine in French press publishers case

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PARIS —& France’s competitors authority on Tuesday granted the country’s press publishers a serious win towards Google.

The Autorité de la concurrence fined the U.S. tech big €500 million for not respecting interim measures imposed last yr, which required Google to negotiate “in good religion” with the press business over licensing fees.

“We hoped that the negotiation can be fruitful and that the actors would play the game. Google nonetheless does not seem to simply accept the regulation because it was voted, but it isn't as much as an actor, even a dominant one, to rewrite the regulation,” the authority’s president, Isabelle de Silva, informed reporters.

France is among the few nations to have carried out the& EU’s copyright reform, which grants press publishers a right to ask for remuneration when their content material is displayed on on-line platforms — the so-called neighboring proper.

Tuesday’s choice is a blow for the U.S. tech big, which has tried to point out its relationships with the press business have calmed down. It might also have repercussions past French borders, as De Silva stated she hoped it might provide a blueprint for different EU nations which are presently adapting nationwide regulation to the EU copyright reform, and “forestall Google, or different platforms, from reproducing this conduct.”

The search engine behemoth has to current a remuneration supply and provide press publishers with the required info for them to assess this supply within two months, or face a wonderful of as much as €900,000 per day.

France’s news business, including the Syndicate of magazine press publishers, the Alliance of basic info press (APIG in French) and Agence France-Presse (AFP), had complained to the& Autorité de la concurrence& that Google was not negotiating licensing offers “in good religion,” after French legislators launched the EU’s neighboring proper into nationwide regulation.

They argue that the corporate did not respect the interim measures imposed by the competitors authority, which& required Google& to take a seat down with the press business to provide you with an agreement to pay for news. In the meantime, APIG and Google announced an settlement on cost for information materials in January, however the deal is reportedly value solely $76 million over three years.&

“We're very disillusioned with this determination — we have now acted in good religion all through the whole process. The superb ignores our efforts to succeed in an agreement, and the truth of how news works on our platforms. Up to now, Google is the only company to have introduced agreements on neighboring rights,” a Google spokesperson stated in a press release, including that the corporate was about to finalize a worldwide cope with AFP.

The Google Showcase situation

For years, Google has been at loggerheads with press publishers throughout the globe over cost for news.

Prior to now few months, indicators of détente seemed to seem. For instance, the tech big and Murdoch-owned media conglomerate Information Corp in February reached a three-year licensing agreement, ending years of dispute. On Tuesday, the identical day as the French competitors authority’s choice, Google and Agence France-Presse introduced they have been close to reaching a worldwide deal beneath the neighboring right. &

However Tuesday’s choice again casts Google as an actor flouting the regulation.

The competition authority cited a number of causes in arguing that the tech firm did not negotiate in good religion. First, because the corporate imposed on press publishers the demand to debate in the context of a brand new partnership that included Google’s information product Showcase, as an alternative of focusing specifically on the remuneration based mostly on current use of copyright-protected content material. In June final yr, Google announced the launch of the global licensing program that may also help collaborating news organizations monetize their content online.

General, the negotiations on the neighboring rights have been too linked to Showcase, which fits towards Google’s neutrality obligations, the authority stated. (The product is under investigation in Germany.)

“Google’s strategy was to say: OK, we’ll pay press publishers, however not on the idea of the neighboring rights, and fairly on the idea of our product Showcase,” stated Damien Geradin, a lawyer who has represented shoppers towards Massive Tech corporations and is the founder of Geradin Partners.&

“It’s Google’s general strategy in the direction of press publishers that's rejected by the competition authority,” he added.

Based on the competition authority, the tech big additionally determined to solely bear in mind direct revenues generated by means of press materials to assess the money that should go to press publishers — when indirect revenues also needs to be part of the negotiations.

Google refused to barter with press businesses and corporations that don't publish “basic and political info,” the authority added, and failed to offer publishers with the required info to assess how a lot cash they might get.

“The €500 million penalty takes under consideration the exceptional seriousness of the breaches observed and the truth that Google’s conduct has led to an extra delay in the proper software of the neighboring proper legislation,” de Silva stated.

Tuesday’s choice doesn't mechanically strike down licensing offers already agreed between Google and press publishers, however might be leveraged to ask for a renegotiation, the Autorité‘s president added.

“It’s the third choice that absolutely condemns Google, they usually should very quickly get again on monitor. The company must enter into a logic of concluding [deals]— and I feel that’s already partly the case,” stated APIG’s chairman Pierre Louette.

The case isn't totally closed but, as the competition authority will assess by the top of the yr whether or not Google has abused its dominant place towards press publishers.