France has fined Google £425million for failing to negotiate ‘in good faith’ with media companies over the use of their content under EU copyright rules.

It is ‘the biggest ever fine’ imposed by the Competition Authority for a company’s failure to adhere to one of its rulings, the agency’s chief Isabelle De Silva said.

The long-running legal row focuses on claims Google has been showing articles, pictures, and videos produced by media groups when displaying search results without adequate compensation.

In a ruling published on its website, the Competition Authority also ordered the US internet giant to present media publishers with ‘an offer of remuneration for the current use of their copyrighted content’, or risk paying additional damages of up to £750,000 a day.

A Google spokesperson said in a statement to AFP that the company was ‘very disappointed’ by the decision.

‘We have acted in good faith during the entire negotiation period. This fine does not reflect the efforts put in place, nor the reality of the use of news content on our platform,’ the company insisted.

‘This decision is mainly about negotiations that took place between May and September 2020. Since then, we have continued to work with publishers and news agencies to find common ground.’

In April 2020, the French competition authority ordered Google to negotiate ‘in good faith’ with media groups after it refused to comply with a new EU law governing digital copyright.

This was to ensure that news publishers are compensated when their work is shown on websites, search engines, and social media platforms.

But last September, news publishers including Agence France-Presse (AFP) filed a complaint with regulators, saying Google was refusing to move forward on paying to display content in web searches.

 

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