Google Fined Nearly 600 Million By France

July 14, 2021

By: Emma Maggio

On Tuesday, July 13, Google was fined €500 million ($592 million) by France’s antitrust regulator. Google has 2 months to propose solutions for paying publishers for their content before facing further retributions, possibly fines of  €900,000 (approximately $1 million) per day.

France’s amercement is a result of Google’s failure to fulfill the regulator’s requirements in communicating with news publishers regarding copyright. According to CNN Business, on Tuesday, the regulator released a statement that many mandates connected to the company’s negotiations with France were neglected. 

In April 2020, the French antitrust agency had issued orders to Google to communicate with news publishers within 3 months. Google failed to do so and was thus issued a fine. 

Isabelle de Silva, the antitrust agency's chief, said, "When the regulator imposes obligations for a company, it must comply scrupulously, in both the spirit and letter. In this instance, this was unfortunately not the case." As explained by de Silva, while negotiating with news publishers and agencies, Google was not acting "in good faith" and refused to participate in certain discussions about purchasing news content online. 

In a statement, Google said that it was “very disappointed” with the decision. A spokesperson from the company said, “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."

While the pressure on online platforms to raise the amount of revenue shared with news outlets has recently been increasing globally, the tech giant shows its compliance saying, "Our objective remains the same: we want to turn the page with a definitive agreement. We will take the French Competition Authority's feedback into consideration and adapt our offers"

This discord contributes to a larger effort by the European Union authorities and others internationally to require tech companies, such as Google, to compensate news agencies and publishers for content. 

In 2019, the European Union implemented a new copyright directive requiring social media platforms and search engines to give a percentage of revenue to the publishers of displayed content as well as holding the platforms responsible for copyright violations committed by their consumers. 

Google launched a program last year for licensing news in an effort to help newsrooms struggling with the loss of advertising earnings due to social media platforms. As part of the new program, the company would pay more than $1 billion to publishers over the next 3 years.