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Google Slapped With $593 Million Fine by French Competition Authority

The company didn’t comply with an order to negotiate fair deals for use of news publishers’ content

Google was slapped with a $593,000 fine by the French competition authority this week after, the authority said, the company failed to comply with an order to negotiate fair deals with news publishers.

The fine — which was handed down in Euros and totals €500m in that currency — came after the authority said Google breached a 2020 ruling that commanded the tech giant to negotiate “in good faith” licensing deals with other companies for reuse of their copyrighted content.

A representative for Google told TheWrap, “While we are committed to complying with the Copyright Directive and the FCA’s orders, this fine ignores the significant efforts we have made to reach agreements and the reality of how news works on our platforms: Google last year generated less than 5 million Euros in revenue-not-profit from clicks on ads against possible news-related queries in France. We want to find a solution and reach definitive agreements but this fine is out of all proportion to the amount of money we make from news and we will be reviewing the decision in detail.”

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

In April of last year, France invoked new rules made by the European Union as part of sweeping copyright reform. At that time, France gave Google three months to negotiate “in good faith” with French news companies, including Agence France-Presse, the global news agency that provides news to all of the country’s government offices.

In the statement to CNBC, a Google spokesperson noted, “To date, Google is the only company to have announced agreements on neighbouring rights. 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.”

France isn’t the only country to push for better negotiation from tech companies: That same month, the Australian government announced it would force Facebook and Google to pay the country’s media companies in order to use their news content, a move that came as thousands of news outlets worldwide were compelled to downsize and shut down because of plummeting ad revenue amid the coronavirus pandemic.