Google Fined $593 Million By French Antitrust Regulators

Antitrust regulators in France fined Google $593 million (€500 million) on Monday for failing to cut a deal with local publishers who wanted to host their news content on its platform.

QUICK FACTS:
  • Google failed to comply with an April 2020 decision by French regulators to negotiate a deal “in good faith” with publishers to carry snippets of their content on its Google News platform, according to Forbes.
  • President of the French Competition Authority Isabelle de Silva said in an official statement that the more than half a billion dollar fine “takes into account the exceptional seriousness of the breaches observed and how Google’s behavior has led to further delay of the proper application of the law…which aimed to better take into account the value of content from publishers and news agencies included on the platforms.”
  • The French Competition Authority has given Google two months to come up with a compensation offer for its usage of news snippets.
  • Failure to comply with the the two-month deadline means Google will be panalized up to $1 million (€900,000) per day it delays.
  • The case attempts to apply a new copyright directive by the European Union which forces internet platforms like Google and Facebook to compensate news organizations for their content, according to The New York Times.
WHAT GOOGLE’S SAYING:
  • Google said it was “very disappointed” with the decision and it maintains it “acted in good faith throughout the entire process.”
  • Forbes reports the Big Tech giant insisted it is “about to reach a global licensing agreement with the French news agency, Agence France-Presse (AFP).”
  • Google has been striking deals with individual publishers, for example, in February announcing a three-year deal with News Corp., owner of The New York Post and The Wall Street Journal.
  • It pleged $1 billion to license content from news publishers last year.
BACKGROUND:
  • The fine adds to the list of several large fines the U.S. tech giant has been hit with in Europe in the past few years.
  • Publishers in Europe have accused Google of levaraging the publishers’ content effectively luring away billions of euros in advertising money.
  • One egregious fact is that Google’s Google News platform hosts bits of news content from publishers without paying them.
  • However, publishers do not have the option to remove their content from Google’s platform because they rely significantly on it to draw traffic to their websites.
  • Media publishers have noticed drops in advertising revenue globally, according to Variety, making Google’s wound a victory for them.
ANYTHING ELSE?
  • Tuesday’s fine on Google is “the second-biggest antitrust penalty a single company has faced in France,” Forbes reports. “Last year, the competition regulator hit Apple with a $1.2 billion fine after the company was found to have signed anti-competitive agreements with two distributors over the sale of non-iPhone products such as Apple Mac computers. Apple has appealed the ruling.”
  • Google has the option to appeal the fine.