Google Fined $593 Mln By France Over Copyright Issues

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Competition regulators in France on Tuesday fined Alphabet Inc.'s (GOOG) Google 500 million euros or $593 million for failing to adhere with an order to negotiate fair deals with news publishers for using their content.

According to the Competition Authority, the popular search engine had violated an April 2020 ruling that ordered the company to negotiate "in good faith" licensing deals with publishers and news agencies for any reuse of copyrighted content.

The fine of $593 million is one of the largest fines imposed by the country's competition watchdog. The regulator asked Google to provide remuneration for using protected content to publishers within two months or be ready to fined up to 900,000 euros per day.

The problem began in January 2021 when Google arrived at a major digital copyright deal with French publishers. According to the deal, the company said it would negotiate individual licenses with France's press alliance members covering related rights and access to a new service called News Showcase.

This did not sit pretty with the competitive authority who were of the opinion that the deal did not include a discussion on remuneration for current uses of content covered by "neighboring rights" for the press. The regulator said that the search engine limited the scope of talks with the media by avoiding the issue of the use of press images.

In a statement, Google said it was "very disappointed by Tuesday's decision. 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."

France was the first country in Europe to follow controversial new EU copyright laws, which were designed to give news organizations enough protections to make sure they get enough compensation for comments and reactions to their online content.

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