The French government made heavy moves, and Google was heavily fined NT$16.5 billion! News content is no longer a "free lunch"

The French business competition regulator was dissatisfied with the failure of Google in the United States to negotiate content copyright compensation with the country’s news organizations in accordance with its statutory order, and fined Google 500 million euros (about NT$16.5 billion).

The French competition authority (Autorité de la concurrence) stated that Google, which has a market value of US$1 trillion (approximately NT$28 trillion), was not "sincere" in the negotiation process. Google told the BBC that the French ruling "disregards our efforts to reach an agreement."

France imposed fines on Google in accordance with the local legislation of the EU's "Digital Single Market Copyright Directive". (BBC News Chinese)

The French move opened a new chapter in the dispute over copyright bargaining between global Internet giants and news organizations. In February of this year, the Australian Federal Parliament reviewed the media bargaining bill to try to force companies such as Google and Facebook to pay for news content in Australia. Facebook emptied all Australian media and even government department accounts , causing an uproar. The bill was finally passed.

On the other hand, this is the second time that the French Competition Supervision Agency has fined Google recently. At the beginning of June this year, the General Administration fined 220 million Euros (about NT$7.3 billion) for abusing its dominant position in the online advertising market.

The latest case originated in 2019. At that time, France became the first EU member state to pass local legislation on the Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market of the European Parliament, regulating so-called neighbouring rights, related to the adoption of news materials, etc. Compensate publishers and news organizations.

In 2020, the French Competition Supervision Agency negotiated with the news organization and concluded a compensation agreement for Google to display the content of French news organizations in its search results and news services.

Google then decided not to display EU publisher content in France unless the publisher agreed to let it use the material for free. The French news organizations were very dissatisfied. The French Press General Union (APIG), the French Magazine News Editors' Union (SEPM) and Agence France-Presse (AFP) subsequently complained to the General Inspectorate.

Google told the BBC: "We are very disappointed with this (fine) decision-we have maintained a sincere attitude throughout the process."

Google said that so far, the company is the only company that has announced that it has reached an agreement on the issue of neighboring rights. Google's negotiations with Agence France-Presse (AFP) have also entered the final stage, and it will soon reach an agreement on global press and publishing authorization and payment.

According to a Reuters report, the agency had read relevant documents, which showed that Google was willing to pay 76 million US dollars (approximately NT$2.13 billion) to one of the guilds in three years for settlement, involving 121 French news publishers.

According to a ruling by the General Inspectorate, Google must submit a plan within the next two months stating how the company will compensate French news organizations for the use of their material. If Google refuses to comply, the General Administration will impose an additional fine of 900,000 Euros (approximately NT$29.75 million) per day.

Isabelle de Silva, Director of the General Administration of Competition, issued a statement saying : "The General Administration issues orders to individual companies and must be followed meticulously. Unfortunately, this is not the case in this case."

In addition to Europe, Google still faces at least four lawsuits related to competition in the United States.

In October last year, the US Department of Justice accused Google of "using anti-competitive methods to maintain and expand its monopoly on search and search advertising," and filed an antitrust lawsuit. The case is scheduled to start on September 12, 2023.

Thirty-eight states and regions in the United States accused Google of trying to expand its monopoly in the field of smart cars and television. The relevant cases were integrated into the federal case of the Department of Justice for trial.

In addition, the State of Texas also sued Google separately, accusing its online advertising business of violating antitrust laws.

The latest lawsuit appeared on July 7 in which dozens of state attorneys accused Google of maintaining a monopoly on the Android smartphone operating system application store through mergers and acquisitions of competitors.


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