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Google fined €500m for not paying French publishers after using their words on web

If the Chocolate Factory doesn't play ball soon it'll be an extra €1m a day

Google was fined €500m ($590m, £425m) by the French Competition Authority on Tuesday for failing to negotiate fees with news publishers for using their content.

In April last year, the regulator ruled the American search giant had to compensate French publishers for using snippets of their articles in Google News, citing European antitrust rules and copyright law. Google was given three months to figure out how much to pay publishers. More than a year later, no licensing deals have been struck, and Google did not "enter into negotiations in good faith," we're told. For one thing, it just stopped including snippets from French publishers in all Google services.

“When the Authority imposes injunctions on companies, they are required to apply them scrupulously, respecting their letter and their spirit,” Isabelle de Silva, the FCA’s president said in a statement. “In the present case, this was unfortunately not the case.

“First of all, Google's negotiations with publishers and press agencies cannot be regarded as having been conducted in good faith ... In doing so, Google refused, as it has been asked on several occasions, to have a specific discussion on the remuneration due for current uses of content protected by neighboring rights.”

Now, the FCA has sanctioned the Chocolate Factory €500m and has given it two months to negotiate with French publishers. If the web giant continues to dilly-dally after this point, it’ll be fined up to €900,000 (over $1m or around £767,000) a day until it complies with the FCA’s demands. Google is expected to enter talks with some of France’s largest news publications.

“The sanction of €500m takes into account the exceptional seriousness of the breaches observed and what the behavior of Google has led to further delay the proper application of the law on neighboring rights, which aimed to better take into account the value of content from publishers and news agencies included on the platforms," de Silva warned

"The Authority will be extremely vigilant about the proper application of its decision, as non-execution can now lead to periodic penalty payments."

We’ve asked Google for comment and will update the story if we hear back. ®

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