Google fined €250m in French clash with news outlets

Google fined €250m in French clash with news outlets

Alphabet’s Google was fined €250m by France’s competition watchdog for failing to keep its pledge to broker fair agreements with media outlets for publishing links to their content, including by plundering press articles to train its AI technology, without informing them.

The move from the French authority marks another escalation in its bid to get Google to deal with the media sector more fairly, after having previously slapped the US tech giant with a €500m penalty for earlier abuses.

The regulator said on Wednesday that Google had failed to respect commitments to negotiate deals with press publishers in good faith and that it had trained its Bard generative AI chatbot — now called Gemini — on press content, without notifying the authority or the publishers.

Despite reaching a settlement with regulators, Google said in a blog post the fine was disproportionate and “doesn’t sufficiently take into account the efforts we have made to answer and resolve the concerns raised”. 

The French antitrust authority has been seeking to force big tech firms to negotiate deals with press publishers for republishing their content. Its so-called neighbouring rights were targeted as part of the European Union’s 2019 Copyright Directive.

The German antitrust authority previously ditched an investigation into Google’s News Showcase service after the company settled its concerns. 

In 2014, Google withdrew its news service from Spain after the country adopted laws that allow Spanish publications to charge Google for publishing snippets to their work. Google News was eventually reinstated in Spain.

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