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France fines Google $593M for skipping talks on news publisher compensation

The shakedown continues

France fines Google $593M for skipping talks on news publisher compensation
Thomas Macaulay
Story by

Thomas Macaulay

Writer at Neural by TNW — Thomas covers AI in all its iterations. Likes Werner Herzog films and Arsenal FC. Writer at Neural by TNW — Thomas covers AI in all its iterations. Likes Werner Herzog films and Arsenal FC.

France‘s competition watchdog has fined Google $593 million (€500 million) for failing to negotiate with media companies over the use of their content.

The fine is the latest attempt to make Google pay news organizations for displaying their content in search results.

In 2020, France’s Competition Authority ordered the company to negotiate an agreement on remuneration for showing snippets of articles on Google News.

Publishers alleged that the firm had failed to open the talks in “good faith,” Reuters reports.

The regulator took their side. It accused Google of violating the 2020 order.

“The sanction of 500 million euros takes into account the exceptional seriousness of the breaches observed,” said Isabelle de Silva, president of the French agency.

The watchdog has now ordered Google to produce proposals on how it will compensate publishers within the next two months. If the company fails to do so, it faces daily fines of up to $1.1 million (€900,000) a day.

A company spokesperson said the tech giant was “very disappointed” with the decision:

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 To date, Google is the only company to have announced agreements on neighboring rights.

France is part of a growing global movement to squeeze cash out of tech firms for news publishers. Earlier this year, Australia passed a world-first law requiring Google and Facebook to pay local publishers for their content.

Media firms say compensation is warranted because their content drives traffic and advertising revenue towards Google. But critics have described the moves as “shakedowns” and “protection rackets.”

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