Home / News / Technology / Google Fined €250M by French Competition Regulator For Failing to Comply With “Transparency” Commitments
3 min read

Google Fined €250M by French Competition Regulator For Failing to Comply With “Transparency” Commitments

Last Updated March 21, 2024 3:18 PM
James Morales
Last Updated March 21, 2024 3:18 PM

Key Takeaways

  • Google has been fined €250 million by the French competition authority for failing to meet the terms of a copyright agreement with publishers.
  • The firm had agreed to negotiate a remuneration package with French news organizations who sued Google for copyright infringement.
  • In the latest decision, the regulator accused Google of failing to notify publishers that it had used their content to train its AI models.

Google has been fined €250m by the French competition authority for breaching an agreement over paying media companies for reproducing their content online.

In a statement  on Wednesday, March 20, the regulator announced that Google had been fined for failing to follow through on commitments it made when it settled a major copyright lawsuit with French publishers in 2022.

Google Fails 4 Out of 7 Copyright Commitments

The latest fine relates to a lawsuit instigated by an alliance of French publishers and a concurrent investigation by the competition watchdog.

Google appeared to have moved past the issue in 2022, when it dropped its appeal against a 500 million antitrust fine and agreed  to negotiate a remuneration deal with French press agencies and publishers.

In this latest decision, however, the competition watchdog has penalized the Big Tech firm for “breaching its commitment to cooperate with the monitoring trustee and failing to comply with four of its seven commitments.”

Specifically, the regulator found that Google failed “to negotiate in good faith” with relevant parties within 3 months of the agreement (commitments 1 and 4); didn’t provide press agencies and publishers with the information needed to transparently assess their remuneration (commitment 2); and failed to ensure that negotiations didn’t affect its existing arrangements with copyright owners (commitment 6).

Competition Watchdog Weighs in on AI Training 

On the issue of transparency, the competition authority accused Google of training its AI models on copyright-protected content without notifying publishers.

“By failing to propose a technical solution for press agencies and publishers to opt out of the use of their content by Bard,” the regulator found that Google obstructed French publishers’ ability to negotiate remuneration.

France Leads EU Big Tech Crackdown

The recent fine is the latest in a string of penalties issued against Google by the French competition authority, which sits at the vanguard of the  EU’s attempts to regulate American Big Tech firms.

France was the first Member State to enact a 2019 copyright directive  that limits the length of news extracts Google uses to display search engine results. 

The directive also requires the firm to reach licensing agreements with publishers for the use of images and longer extracts such as those displayed by Google News – the content aggregator that initially galvanized French publishers to sue in 2005. 

France has also taken the lead in digital advertising, spearheading an EU crackdown on Google’s alleged abuse of its market dominance.

After the regulator found that Google’s AdX breached antitrust laws, a coalition of European publishers is now suing the company for $2.3 billion in damages over its advertising technology.

In the never-ending tug-of-war between EU regulators and American Big Tech firms, decisions by the French competition authority often foreshadow even bigger, more expensive difficulties for Google and its peers.

Was this Article helpful? Yes No