3 September 2021CopyrightAlex Baldwin

Google appeals against €500m penalty over news hosting

Google is contesting a €591m fine imposed by France’s Competition Authority over sharing local news content on the platform.

The fine was handed down by the French antitrust watchdog in July following mounting pressure on companies such as  Google and  Facebook to pay news publishers to share their copyrighted content.

Google was ordered by the authority to strike deals with local publishers in 2020 but was hit with the penalty after the  French Competition Authority claimed Google was not acting in good faith in these talks.

Sebastien Missoffe, vice president and managing director of Google France, said in a statement: “We disagree with a number of legal elements, and believe that the fine is disproportionate to our efforts to reach an agreement and comply with the new law.”

“Irrespective of this, we recognize neighbouring rights and we continue to work hard to resolve this case and put deals in place. This includes expanding offers to 1,200 publishers, clarifying aspects of our contracts, and we are sharing more data as requested by the French Competition Authority in their July Decision.”

According to  Reuters, the French antitrust body said that Google’s appeal will not hold up the fine, which Google must still pay.

Negotiating with publishers

The antitrust authority fined Google more than half a million Euros in July this year for not complying with injunctions on how to conduct talks with publishers.

According to a  press release from the watchdog, Google “disregarded” several injunctions issued by the competition authority related to an  earlier 2020 decision ordering the search engine giant to negotiate fairer deals with publishers.

This order was prompted following the European Copyright Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market (Article 13) issued in 2019, which gave news publishers the authority to charge search engines to share snippets of their content.

Pressure is also mounting from outside the EU  on companies like Google to remunerate publishers for news content. Earlier this year, Facebook pulled all news content from its Australian users following a  proposed landmark law that would order Facebook and Google to pay publishers for hosting copyright news content on their platforms.

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