June 23, 2024
  • French Competition watchdog hits Google with a 250 million euros ($271.73 million) fine for not fairly compensating French news publishers
  • The company is unhappy with the decision and said that the regulators have ignored all the efforts they put in to adjust to the new laws.
  • In spite of this, they have decided to settle the matter

Google Fined €250 Million By French Competition Watchdog

On Wednesday, the French competition watchdog imposed a massive fine of 250 million euros ($271.73 million) on Google over breaching certain content rules and not paying French publishers.

Many European countries are designing newer content laws to keep the industry fair for everyone amidst the rising use of AI. Under a similar rule, Google is required to compensate all French news publishers whose content the tech giant uses to train its AI chatbot Gemini.

France was the first among 27 other EU countries to recognize this copyright rule that gave creators and news publishers the right to license their content to online platforms.

In fact, this is a rather old issue that started in 2020 when Google, specifically its AI model Gemini, was found using data from online sources for training purposes without informing the original creator or the regulators.

The case ended in court with Google getting ordered to pay the publishers in accordance with the 2019 European Union copyright directive for using their content.

It seemed like the matter was completely resolved in 2021, especially after Google backed out of appealing against the initial 500 million euro fine.

But a fresh investigation was triggered by a string of complaints registered by some of the biggest news agencies in France which includes the Agence France Presse (AFP).

A new statement was released by the authorities on Wednesday that said the tech giant violated 4 out of the 7 terms that were discussed in the previous settlement including the following promises:

  • Maintain transparency
  • Properly negotiate with the news publishers
  • Provide them with a remuneration model within 3 months

The company was also supposed to work with a trustee appointed by the authorities who would ensure that the terms of the settlement were met. But unfortunately, Google failed to do so.

Read More: Nvidia faces copyright infringement lawsuit over AI training data

What Does Google Have To Say About This New Fine?

Speaking of the reason why negotiation in good faith was hindered between the two parties, the watchdog said “Google linked the use of the content concerned by its artificial intelligence service to the display of protected content.

The Google office in France said that they won’t contest the settlement. They want to pay it off and end the matter once and for all because it’s time to move on.

Speaking about the massive fine, Google said that it’s not in proportion to the severity of the issue. They also accused the French watchdog of not taking into account the company’s efforts over the years to keep up with their ever-evolving laws.

Plus, they are already working with 280 French news publishers under the European copyright directive and have a licensing agreement in place with each one of them. As per the company, it’s the first and only major online platform to do so.

Despite all these efforts, and the fact that they already pay tens of millions of euros a year to publishers, the company has been hit by this massive fine. On top of that, the authorities have also asked them to change the way they negotiate with the publishers.

Google has clearly expressed its displeasure over the turn of events but as stated before, has agreed to oblige.

This isn’t the first time an AI company has received criticism for using original content without permission. In the last week of December, The New York Times sued both OpenAI and Microsoft for copyright infringement.

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