And it’s been two in a matter of weeks: if at the beginning of June, Google took a fine in France for position of advertising monopoly , now it has taken another one for copyright of online media. The sanctioning body in it. The Autorité française de la concurrence has imposed a 500 million euro fine on Google for so-called neighboring rights.
The question of neighboring rights is not new and is one of the points in which Google (and other online giants) live a tug of war with the media . They believe that the platforms should pay for their copyright, by including not only the links but also certain elements of the content in their services.
At the end of the day, or so the media argue, Internet users do not enter their news because they are informed with those fragments, which online platforms monetize with advertising and from which they do not see anything in terms of income. In France, neighboring rights had already been negotiated .
Now a little over a year ago, the competition body itself gave Google a few months to negotiate “in good faith” with online media how much it was going to pay for that content and related copyright. Then, the media were happy and assured that they had been heard.
The joy did not last long, because precisely the millionaire fine that France has now imposed is linked to those rights and to that negotiation. The Autorité française de la concurrence accuses Google of not negotiating in good faith with the French media.
Why they have condemned Google
The findings of the body, as collected by Le Mond e, indicate that Google did not seem to accept the law. “It does not belong to an operator to reject the law,” said the head of French competition, Isabelle de Silva. “Google’s behavior demonstrates a deliberate, elaborate and systematic strategy of disrespect”, they have sentenced, determining that they did not sit down to negotiate with press editors in good faith.
Google has tried to lead the negotiations to link everything to a new service of its own, Google Showcase, and has not wanted to speak directly about neighboring rights (at least that is what the Autorité de la concurrence has ruled).
Likewise, the body has also criticized that Google “without justification” has left out the press that is not political and general and does not want to integrate other media elements, such as photos, in the negotiation. The other point for which they do not believe that they have sat down to negotiate in good faith is that they have not been transparent in terms of remuneration.
Google, of course, has been against the sanction and has said that it is “very disappointed” with the decision of the organism. They insist that they have acted in good faith. The problem with this decision is not only in what it entails in France – where it is the highest fine ever imposed by the Autorité de la concurrence – but also in what this implies outside of France.
The penalty could set a dangerous (for Google) precedent in negotiating copyright and what you can and cannot do with your ads. Pressure against Google is mounting, both in Europe and outside Europe, and these kinds of decisions by competition authorities are bad news for the company.