A PYMNTS Company

France Fines Google €250M in Clash with News Publishers

 |  March 20, 2024

France’s competition watchdog imposed a hefty fine of 250 million euros ($271.73 million) on Alphabet’s Google for violations linked to EU intellectual property rules concerning its association with media publishers. The watchdog’s decision, announced on Wednesday, cited concerns over Google’s AI service.

According to reports from Reuters, the watchdog highlighted Google’s AI-powered chatbot Bard, now rebranded as Gemini, as a focal point of contention. The chatbot allegedly utilized content from publishers and news agencies for training purposes without prior notification.

Despite Google’s decision not to contest the facts, settling proceedings, the company proposed remedial actions to address identified shortcomings. However, Google’s office in France remained silent in response to requests for comments on the matter.

This fine stems from a copyright dispute originating in France concerning online content. The conflict initially surfaced following complaints from major French news organizations, including Agence France Presse (AFP). Reuters previously reported that in 2022, Google had withdrawn its appeal against an initial 500 million euro fine issued after a comprehensive investigation by the Autorite de la Concurrence.

Read more: French Court Upholds Google Ad Fine

Nevertheless, Wednesday’s statement from the watchdog revealed that Google had failed to uphold four out of seven commitments outlined in the settlement. These breaches included purportedly not engaging in negotiations with publishers in good faith and lacking transparency in providing information.

The watchdog particularly highlighted Google’s AI chatbot Bard, launched in 2023, as a key point of concern. Allegedly, the chatbot was trained on data from various media outlets and news agencies without adequate notification to either the content providers or the regulatory authority.

Commenting on the matter, the watchdog emphasized that Google’s actions hindered the ability of publishers and press agencies to negotiate fair compensation, as the company linked the use of content by its AI service to the display of protected content.

This latest fine underscores the ongoing tensions between tech giants and media publishers regarding intellectual property rights and fair compensation.

Source: Reuters