Google has been fined $792 million (500 million euros) by the French antitrust regulator, after allegedly failing to negotiate payment deals with local publishers.
Much like Australia’s News Media Bargaining Code, France last year established new rules that require the tech giant to reach licensing deals with media outlets in “good faith”.
In a statement, the President of the French Authority, Isabelle de Silva, suggested Google’s negotiations with publishers had not taken place in good faith, as they had been made within the framework of the Google News Showcase service.
“In doing so, Google refused, as it has been asked on several occasions, to have a specific discussion on the remuneration due for current uses of content protected by neighboring rights,” de Silva said.
“In addition, Google has restricted the scope of negotiation without justification, by refusing to include in it the contents of the press agencies taken up by publications (images for example) and by excluding all the non-IPG press from the discussion, even though it is undoubtedly concerned by the new law, and that its content is also associated with significant revenue for Google.”
Google now has two months to come back to the table with the French authority, or it risks further fines of up to 900,000 euros ($1.4 billion) per day of delay.
Google can dispute the fine and has since come out and said it is “very disappointed” with the decision.
“We have acted in good faith throughout the entire process,” Google said in a statement. “The fine ignores our efforts to reach an agreement, and the reality of how news works on our platforms.”
While Australian media companies are currently receiving payments from both Google and Facebook following the launch of the News Media Bargaining Code, the dispute between Google and the French government is reminiscent of a standoff in Australia earlier this year.
Earlier this year, Google pushed to make deals with Australian publishers as part of the News Showcase initiative – as it has done so in France.
Nine initially fought back against this, claiming: “This is what monopolies do, they put an offer, in the form of Google Showcase, but not offer to negotiate. It has to be all on their terms and that is not an approach we will participate in, we support the legislation the Government is proposing as the best way to secure a fair payment for our content.”
Google has since reached agreements with Nine, Seven West Media, News Corp, and other Australian media outlets to pay for news content as part of the News Showcase.