France’s competition regulator has fined Google €500 million (£427m) after the company failed to comply with a ruling on news content.
Google was ordered to begin talks with French news publishers this year to establish how it could compensate firms for online content.
The initial order followed the introduction of the EU’S Digital Copyright Directive, which France was among the first to adopt.
This directive established “neighbouring rights” which entitles publishers to demand compensation for the use of their material, including article excerpts or other content.
France’s adoption of the directive prompted Google to stop publishing certain content – a decision which publishers heavily criticised.
News publishers including APIG, SEPM and AFP accused the tech giant of failing to “hold talks in good faith” and issued a complaint with the competition regulator.
The President of the Authority, Isabelle de Silva, said: “When the Authority imposes injunctions on companies, they are required to apply them scrupulously. In the present case, this was unfortunately not the case.
“Google refused, after being asked several times, to have a specific discussion on the remuneration due for current uses of content protected by neighbouring rights.”
In a statement, Google said it was “very disappointed” by the ruling, adding that it was in advanced negotiations to reach an agreement with publishers.
The ruling means that Google is required to outline proposals on how it will compensate publishers within the next two months. If the tech giant fails to re-enter talks it could face daily penalties of up to €900,000.
- Police Scotland signs body camera deal ahead of COP26
- Britain’s fintech sector booming after record breaking year
- Majority of Scottish financial services workers back hybrid working
This fine marks the latest big tech showdown with news publishers. Concerns have been raised in recent years over the impact of organisations such as Google or Facebook on publications.
In 2019, the Cairncross Review highlighted that Google and Facebook control a “significant share” of online advertising revenues. This, the report found, creates a difficult environment in which traditional publishers and news outlets are forced to compete.
The review recommended that both be subject to tougher regulation by British authorities.
Earlier this year, Australian regulators were locked in a feud with Facebook over the introduction of its News Media Bargaining Code, which aimed to make tech companies pay news publishers for content.
At the time, Facebook heavily criticised the proposed legislation and threatened to ban Australian news content from its platform. Initially, Google agreed to follow suit, even testing a block on 1% of Australian users from accessing news content.
Google backed down, however, while Facebook continued with its embargo. The decision was widely condemned, and the social media giant later reversed its decision.