France Fines Google $593 Million

Posted on July 13, 2021 by Paul Thurrott in Cloud, Google with 10 Comments

France fined $500 million euros—about $593 million—for ignoring a 2020 ruling that requires the search giant to reach a fair deal with French news sources from which it steals content.

“The sanction of 500 million euros takes into account the exceptional seriousness of the breaches observed,” Autorité de la concurrence president Isabelle de Silva said of the second-highest antitrust fine that France has ever leveled at a corporation. “When the Authority imposes orders on companies, they are required to apply them scrupulously, respecting their letter and spirit. In this instance, unfortunately, that was not the case.”

The French agency ruled in April 2020 that Google, which scrapes content from news agencies around the world and republishes it for free, would have to negotiate fair deals for that content with French news sources. It did reach deals with some French publishers, like Le Monde and Le Figaro, but not with others such as Agence France-Presse.

“We are very disappointed with this decision,” a Google spokesperson said. “We have acted in good faith throughout the entire process. The fine ignores our efforts to reach an agreement, and the reality of how news works on our platforms … [We] want to turn the page with a definitive agreement. We will take the French Competition Authority’s feedback into consideration and adapt our offers.”

Google also notes that it was on the verge of reaching a global licensing agreement with Agence France-Presse when it was informed of the fine.

Google can appeal this decision, but it now has two months to strike new deals with French news publishers. And it can face further fines of $356,000 each day for each deal that isn’t finalized after that.

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Comments (10)

10 responses to “France Fines Google $593 Million”

  1. lvthunder

    Given that the French government has a proverbial gun to Google's head what makes you think these remaining French companies are willing to accept a "fair deal". Talk about the government putting their thumb on the scale.

  2. ringofvoid

    Sorry Google. " scrapes content from news agencies around the world and republishes it for free" isn't a business model that can stand up to legal scrutiny. Also, there is no guarantee that any news provider will come to terms with Google. The provider needs to do a cost/benefit analysis. There may not be a magic number where both Google can make the profit they want while also paying the provider what they need for it to be worthwhile.

    • puggsly

      I'm not google fan but it seems like the solution is to allow these sites to not be indexed by google at all, problem solved. Although the news agencies who choose this route will shrivel up and die almost immediately!

      I get the concern, but not sure there is really a solution.

      • wright_is

        It isn't the indexing, it is the Google News site "ripping off" content for its own news channel. Google gets the associated ad revenue and the originator of the content gets nothing, unless the user clicks through to the original article. So, Google is getting revenue for somebody else's work and not compensating them for it - you know, the publisher and the reporters that they employ or freelancers they hire for stories.


        The argument isn't the indexing, it is that the Google News side shows enough of the story to satiate a majority of GN visitors, who then never click through to the full story.


        I don't use Google News, so I can't really comment on how good/bad its content is.

  3. ebraiter

    New Google application coming soon: Scraper. Of course in Google tradition, it will be pulled from usage a couple of years later.

  4. locust_infested_orchard_inc.

    Article's quote, "France fined $500 million euros—about $593 million"


    That's just loose change for this data trafficking, tax avoiding, ad shunting corporation.


    Such inconsequential financial penalties shall do nothing to thwart Adoogle's immorality, as $GOOGL stock in unphased by the decision made by the French Competition Authority (FCA).


    These antitrust authorities need to leverage a considerably harsher outcome to such entities to ensure they reconsider their business practices.


    • puggsly

      Non of us love google, but how harsh should the fines be? Is there anyway these news organizations would have made half a billion dollars in revenue let alone profit over this same period?

      It seems like the sites that don't have agreements could simply choose to not be indexed by Google and see how that goes for them.

  5. exharris

    First paragraph doesn’t make sense

  6. saint4eva

    This is wonderful. More of this.

  7. melinau

    Once Google has been forced to pay a fair price for content, it'll be time to take on the Big Music's deals with the Streaming barons which mean that the majority of Musicians & Artists who create & play music streamed on most platforms receive a pittance, while the Music Biz corporations & Streamers get very, very rich.

    I appreciate this is not completely analogous to Google's model - they make even more profit by collecting & re-selling tons of data accumulated while we use their Services, while Music Biz is mainly happy simply to exploit musicians. The biggest similarity is their shared expectation that they are entitled to exploit others' creativity, content & hard work at little or no cost to them. Google was a great idea 20-odd years ago & Music Streaming has been a great innovation, but that doesn't mean they deserve almost unlimited profits in perpetuity - quite the contrary, it's time to pay up or find another genuinely "disruptive" business idea.

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