Google appeals France’s ‘disproportionate’ €500 million fine in copyright row

August 19, 2018 Mountain View / CA / USA - Google logo on one of the buildings situated in Googleplex, the company's main campus in Silicon Valley. [Shutterstock]

Google said on Wednesday (1 September) it was appealing against a 500 million euro fine imposed by France’s antitrust watchdog in July over a dispute with local media about paying for news content.

The fine came amid increasing international pressure on online platforms such as Google, part of Alphabet Inc, and Facebook to share more of the revenue they make from using media outlets’ news.

“We disagree with a number of legal elements, and believe that the fine is disproportionate to our efforts to reach an agreement and comply with the new law,” said Sebastien Missoffe, head of Google France.

“We continue to work hard to resolve this case and put deals in place. This includes expanding offers to 1,200 publishers, clarifying aspects of our contracts, and sharing more data as requested by the French Competition Authority.”

Google fined €500 mln for lack of 'good faith' in negotiations with French press

The French competition authority has slapped a record €500 million fine on Google for not having negotiated “in good faith” with news publishers and agencies on neighbouring rights – the remuneration for the reuse of copyrighted content they are entitled to.

The French antitrust body imposed the sanction on Google for failing to comply with its orders on how to conduct the talks with publishers.

It said on Wednesday that Google’s appeal, which will be ruled on by Paris’ court of appeal, would not hold up the fine, which the U.S. tech giant must still pay. It could not say how long the appeal process would take.

The case focused on whether Google breached temporary orders issued by the authority, which said such talks should take place, within three months, with any news publishers that asked for them.

The watchdog said in its July 13 decision that the U.S. tech group must come up with proposals within the next two months on how it would compensate news agencies and other publishers for the use of their content. If it does not do that, the company would face additional fines of up to 900,000 euros per day.

Google 'determined to find solution' on 'neighbouring rights' for French press

I am “determined to find a solution” at a time when a new collective management body for press publishers is due to be created, Google France managing director, Sébastien Missoffe told French senators on Wednesday (23 June), adding that he “recognises neighbouring rights”.

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