Google appeals against €500m French fine in news copyright dispute

US tech firm fined for not complying with order to come up with proposals on compensating publishers

Google is appealing against a €500m (£430m) fine imposed by France’s antitrust watchdog after a dispute with local media about paying for news content.

The financial penalty came amid increasing international pressure on online platforms such as Google and Facebook to share more of the revenue they make from using media outlets’ content.

“We disagree with a number of legal elements, and believe that the fine is disproportionate to our efforts to reach an agreement and comply with the new law,” said Sebastien Missoffe, the head of Google France.

“We continue to work hard to resolve this case and put deals in place. This includes expanding offers to 1,200 publishers, clarifying aspects of our contracts, and sharing more data as requested by the French Competition Authority.”

The French antitrust body fined Google for failing to comply with its orders on how to conduct the talks with publishers.The Competition Authority said on Wednesday that the appeal would not delay the fine, which the US tech company must still pay. It could not say how long the appeal process would take.

The case focused on whether Google breached temporary orders issued by the Competition Authority, which said such talks should take place, within three months, with any news publishers that asked for them.

The watchdog’s July decision said the US tech group must come up with proposals within the next two months on how it would compensate news agencies and other publishers for the use of their content. If Google does not do that, it faces additional fines of up to €900,000 a day.

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Under the EU’s copyright directive introduced in 2019, publishers can charge for the display of news “snippets” on search engine results. The battle between tech companies and publishers resulted in Facebook temporarily removing news from its platform for its users in Australia in February. The social media company reversed the move after a few days, having reached an agreement with the Australian government.

Last year, Google launched its News Showcase service – featuring story panels prepared by participating publishers – and announced it would pay $1bn (£730m) to publishers over the next three years for their content.


Dan Milmo and agencies

The GuardianTramp

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