Google ‘seriously damaged’ French media sector, must negotiate compensation – antitrust regulator

On Thursday, the French antitrust watchdog, the Competition Authority, gave Google three months to negotiate with the country’s media companies on the amount of payment for displaying their protected content in Google’s search results.

The US-based tech giant’s current practices “have likely constituted an abuse of its dominant position, and have caused serious and immediate damage to the press sector” in France, the regulator said. It added that talks with the media outlets must also cover the fees that have accrued since France’s new copyright law came into effect in October last year. 

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The law gives French media companies the right to claim copyright protection when their content is being used by search engines. SEPM and APIG media alliances, which unite national and regional newspapers, as well as the AFP news agency, have filed complaints against Google, demanding it to pay for displaying their news stories.

Google has refused to pay, saying that it will instead remove the preview images from its search results, meaning that only a headline and a link will appear if individual outlets refuse to allow using their content for free. The French media is not happy with this option either, because it will effectively reduce their visibility and result in ad revenue loss. “Google only leaves us with a choice [whether to die from] the plague or cholera,” APID head Jean-Michel Baylet said in October.

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