Google Fined $272M by French Regulators over Disagreement with News Publishers

On Wednesday, France’s competition watchdog fined Google for a long-standing disagreement over payments to French publishers for news content.

The French Competition Authority said it imposed the 250 million euro ($272 million) penalty because Google failed to meet certain of its promises under a negotiation framework.

The battle is part of a bigger push by European Union and international authorities to compel Google and other technology corporations to compensate news publishers for their material.

The US tech behemoth was compelled to negotiate with French publishers after a judge in 2020 upheld an injunction stating that payments were required by a 2019 European Union copyright legislation.

Google stated in a blog post that it has agreed to settle the fee, which was issued for how it conducted the negotiations, “because it’s time to move on.” It stated that the fine was “not proportionate” to the issues cited by the French watchdog and “doesn’t sufficiently take into account” Google’s attempts to address and remedy the issues.

France was the first of the EU’s 27 countries to ratify the copyright directive, which establishes a framework for publishers and news organizations to negotiate license agreements with online platforms.

The French Competition Authority’s ruling on Wednesday is the fourth in as many years against Google for failing to comply with the EU regulatory framework, which seeks to set “necessary conditions for balanced negotiations between press agencies, publishers, and digital platforms.”

In April 2020, the French antitrust agency issued an interim ruling requiring Google to hold discussions with news publishers within three months. In 2021, the agency fined Google 500 million euros ($592 million) for not negotiating a reasonable payment for publishers’ news.

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