France fines Google record $593 million over copyright row

15:39, 13 July 2021
France fines Google record $593 million over copyright row Photo: Omar Marques/ Look Press

France's antitrust watchdog has hit a record $593 million fine on Alphabet's Google on Tuesday over news copyright row.

The Autorité de la concurrence fined the company for failing to negotiate "in good faith" licensing deals with the country's news agencies and publishers.

"In a decision made public today, the Authority is imposing on Google a sanction of 500 million euros for having disregarded several injunctions issued as part of its provisional measures decision of April 2020," the regulator said in a statement.

If the tech giant fails to come up with proposals within the next two months on compensation matters for the use of media's copyrighted content, Google will face additional fines of up to a little over $1,000,000 per day of delay.

"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," a Google spokesperson said. "To date, Google is the only company to have announced agreements on neighboring rights."

News publishers APIG, SEPM, and AFP accused Google of having failed to open talks with them to find common ground for the remuneration of news content online.

The antitrust authority previously issued talks to take place within three months with any news publishers who are seeking the conversation.

"When the authority decrees an obligation for a company, it must comply scrupulously, both in the spirit and letter. Here, this was unfortunately not the case," the watchdog body's chief Isabelle de Silva said.

The regulator added that Google restricted the scope of talks with the media by refusing to include the use of press images.

It is the largest ever fine imposed by the French competition watchdog for a company’s failure to adhere to one of its rulings.

France was the first country to adopt new EU copyright laws to ensure news companies get compensated fairly to publish their content, in part or in full, online.