Google Hit with $593 Million Fine by French Watchdog

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Google must pay a record-breaking fine due to a news copyright dispute.

Back in January, Google signed a major copyright deal with various French news publications stating that the company would negotiate licensing deals on an individual basis. The French Autorité de la concurrence (or “competition authority”) was concerned about this deal, as it didn’t include any concrete language regarding the usage of existing press-originating content. After an investigation, the authority declared Google to be in violation of an April 2020 ruling that necessitated “good faith” licensing deals with publications. This brings us to today, where Google has been hit with a massive fine.

The French Autorité de la concurrence slapped Google with a 500 million euro fine for its breach, approximately $593 million USD. This is the largest fine France’s competition authority has hit any company with to date. Additionally, Google has also been ordered to present proof of payment for the use of protected content to publishers within two months or face further fines.

“We have acted in good faith throughout the entire process,” a Google spokesperson told CNBC. “The fine ignores our efforts to reach an agreement, and the reality of how news works on our platforms.”

“To date, Google is the only company to have announced agreements on neighbouring rights,” the spokesperson added. “We are also about to finalize an agreement with AFP that includes a global licensing agreement, as well as the remuneration of their neighbouring rights for their press publications.”

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