French regulator orders Google pay copyright fees to media groups

France wants Google to negotiate on neighbouring rights
France wants Google to negotiate on neighbouring rights

France’s competition regulator said Thursday that Google must start paying media groups for displaying their content, ordering it to begin negotiations after refusing for months to comply with Europe’s new digital copyright law.

The agency said it “requires Google, within three months, to conduct negotiations in good faith with publishers and news agencies on the remuneration for the re-use of their protected contents.”

“This injunction requires that the negotiations effectively result in a proposal for remuneration from Google” that must be applied retroactively to October 2019, when France became the first country to ratify the EU law.

The new rule on so-called “neighbouring rights” is designed to ensure news publishers are compensated when their work is shown on websites, search engines and social media platforms.

But Google, which effectively has a lock on internet searches in Europe, refused to comply, saying that articles, pictures and videos would be shown in search results only if media groups consent to let the tech giant use them without cost.

If they refuse, only a headline and a bare link to the content will appear, Google said, almost certainly resulting in a loss of visibility and potential ad revenue for the publisher.

Media groups and news agency Agence France-Presse lodged a complaint with the competition regulator last November.

The regulator said Thursday that “Google’s practices… were likely to constitute an abuse of a dominant position, and caused serious and immediate harm to the press sector”.


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