Google and France end fight over news copyright

Tuesday 21 Jun 2022

French regulators accepted on Tuesday commitments from Google to negotiate fairly with news organisations over copyright, ending a long-running dispute.

Google Inc. signage is displayed on an office building inside the Googleplex headquarters in Mountain View, California, U.S. AP


Under the agreement, the US tech giant will provide news groups with a transparent offer of payment within three months of receiving a copyright complaint.

The framework is part of a process to enforce a 2019 EU law on "neighbouring rights" that sought to crack down on internet platforms using snippets of media content without paying.

Organisations representing French magazines and newspapers -- as well as Agence France-Presse (AFP) -- lodged the case with the regulator three years ago.

France's arrangements could now be followed across the rest of the 27-nation bloc.

Google had fought hard against the idea of paying for content and was fined 500 million euros ($530 million) last year for failing to negotiate in good faith.

But the authority said on Tuesday that Google had dropped an appeal against the fine and its commitments to negotiate fairly were "likely to put an end to the competition concerns".

The framework is in place for the next five years and can be renewed if the French regulator sees fit.

Competition authority president Benoit Coeure told a press conference that France had gained more concessions on compliance from Google than most other countries and Tuesday's decision "will feed the European debate".

Google France's managing director Sebastien Missoffe said the deal validated agreements it had already made with French firms.

"This is a historic decision that sets a sustainable framework for the remuneration of publishers and news agencies, and journalists, under French law," said Missoffe.

Google said some 150 publications in France had already signed remuneration contracts -- they include AFP and newspapers like Le Monde.

The firm said some 650 companies across Europe had also made deals.

However, it may now be possible for those companies to scrap their agreements and try to renegotiate better terms under the new framework.

Google's licensing of news content is already regulated in Australia and British lawmakers are also looking into the issue.

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