Google Fined Millions in France, Allegedly Violated Orders To Negotiate With Publishers

France’s Competition Authority fined Google $593 million for allegedly violating orders to negotiate paid deals with news publishers.

The April 2020 order said Google must negotiate with publishers for the right to show snippets of their content in its search results. The latest find came after complaints from publishers that Google sidestepped France’s rule of a new European Union copyright directive.

Australia passed a law in February similar to the EU copyright directive — leading Facebook to threaten, then retreat, after managing to negotiate with authorities in its favor.

France’s Competition Authority has increasingly sought to control tech companies during the past few years. In 2019, Apple reported in its 10-K filing that the French Competition Authority believes the company's sales and distribution practices violated competition laws.

Let’s put the fine into perspective. For a company that generated $181.69 billion in revenue last year, $593 million, which largely comes from advertising, is nothing.

Now the global fight focuses on how and whether tech companies should pay to aggregate news from publishers.

"Google has stubbornly set its own rules of the game,” wrote Smart CEO Arnaud Creput in an email to Search & Performance Marketing Daily. “First, by entering into bilateral agreements that effectively exclude many publishers. Second, by forcing the publishers that signed these agreements to subscribe to its tech services Subscribe With Google and News Showcase.”

These two services impose a new model that forces publishers to share their data with Google, audiences and content.

“Google is weaponizing 'neighboring rights' to further consolidate its advertising stranglehold on the Open Web,” he wrote. “They also seek to strengthen relationships with advertisers and buyers at the expense of the Open Web. This new decision by the French competition authority proves its commitment to push back against any form of abuse by the advertising giants."

Google has reached paid deals with some French news publishers, such as Le Monde and Le Figaro, but not with others, such as Agence France-Presse, according to The Wall Street Journal.


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