First modification: 09/02/2021 – 05:36
The US company Google appealed on Wednesday the fine of 500 million euros imposed in July by the French Competition Authority for the rights of news published by the media. This was the first decision made by a European regulatory authority on this issue.
Google appeals its fine of 500 million euros. The Silicon Valley giant, on whom the French Competition Authority imposed that fine for related rights last July, appealed this decision on Wednesday, September 1.
“We disagree with certain legal elements, and we consider that the amount of the fine is disproportionate to the efforts we have implemented” to apply related rights, whose objective is to reward the press for the replication of content through the search engine Sébastien Missoffe, the CEO of Google France, said in a statement Wednesday.
Despite the appeal, “we recognize related rights, and we remain committed to signing agreements in France” with press editors, Missoffe said. The US giant’s petition will be examined by the Paris appeal court.
On July 13, the French Competition Authority sentenced Google to a fine of 500 million euros for not having negotiated “in good faith” with press editors on the application of related rights. On the other hand, the Authority ordered Google to “present a remuneration offer for the current use of its protected content” to publishers and press agencies, under penalty of imposing coercive fines that could go up to 900,000 euros per day.
On Wednesday, the US giant specified that it had taken initiatives to respond to the requirements of the Competition Authority, although it opposes the fine that was imposed. “We extended our offer to more than 1,200 press editors, modifying some aspects of our contracts, and we shared the data that was requested in order to comply with the decision of the Competition Authority,” said Sébastien Missoffe.
An initial refusal to pay publishers …
The conflict between Google and the French press publishers involves the rights that Google must pay for press content – excerpts of articles, photos, videos, infographics – that appear on the results pages during a search carried out by the Internet user.
Those related rights are explicitly provided for in new European legislation adopted in 2019 and immediately applied in France. At first, Google refused to pay publishers, considering that they were paid sufficiently by the traffic that they already sent to their web pages.
In April 2020, the Competition Authority – attended by some press editors, in particular the Union of Press Magazines Editors (SEPM), the Alliance of the General Information Press (APIG), the Agence France- Presse (AFP) – ordered Google to negotiate remuneration “in good faith” with press editors, applying the law.
But the latter and the AFP had gone to the Competition Authority in September 2020, considering that Google did not respect its obligations. In parallel to this legal soap opera, Google progressively evolved towards a more conciliatory position.
… And then several agreements on the table
APIG announced a framework agreement with Google in January 2021, which will be reviewed to take into account the July 13 decision of the Competition Authority.
Various media (‘Le Monde’, ‘Le Figaro’, ‘Libération’ and ‘L’Express’) also announced that they had reached agreements with Google, which should also be reviewed to take into account the decision made in July.
For its part, at the time the fine was announced, the AFP indicated that it was “close” to an agreement with Google. Other media are preparing the ground to apply related rights concretely, even if they do not yet have agreements with Google.
The SEPM and two other professional organizations (the National Federation of Specialized Information Press and the Online Independent Information Press Union) announced that the former centrist MEP and president of Radio France, Jean-Marie Cavada, would chair the Collective Management Body (OGC) that would collect the related duties on your behalf.
* This article was adapted from its original in French