France Slaps Google With Record $593 Million Fine Over Copyright Problems
France’s Autorité de la concurrence has fined Google $593 million after the agency said Google failed to negotiate in “good faith” after the regulator ordered Google to negotiate licensing agreements with France’s news and publishing outlets. Google uses snippets of news from news outlets around the world to develop news platforms for individual readers in a system the company bought in 2014 from a Florida company.
At the heart of the issue is that Google believes it is not violating publishers copyrights because they themselves are not republishing any news or content, but instead are listing articles Google thinks you’ll be interested in and when a user clicks on it, the user it taken to that publishers website to read the article. However, France’s competition agency says even the smallest snippets used requires Google to pay publishers licensing fees. A similar situation developed in Australia last year.
A Google spokesperson said Google believes that with hundreds of million of users viewing Google’s snippets, it drives traffic to those publishers website who otherwise might not have visited, thereby helping that individual publisher increase their rankings and web traffic and advertising. France says that despite Google actually negotiating a deal with publishers in January, it did not include renumeration for current uses of content covered by “neighboring rights” for the press.
If Google does not present an offer of renumeration, France will fine Google $900,000 euros a day. “This is akin to holding a gun to someone’s head saying, negotiate with me better or I’ll force you to pay me more. It’s like state operated mafia tactics says Andy Freeman, a tech evangelist and former U.K. regulator.