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Google will appeal its French fine of 500 million euros

Sentenced by the Competition Authority last July, Google is today appealing its fine, the largest ever imposed by the regulatory body.

On July 13, the Competition Authority imposed a record fine of 500 million euros – the heaviest since its creation – against the giant Google. In question, the thorny issue of neighboring rights, and the remuneration of press actors appearing on the GAFAM search engine. According to the French gendarme, Google would not have shown “in good faith” in its negotiations with press editors. A conclusion that the web giant firmly refutes. In a press release, Sébastien Missoffe, the CEO of Google France explained: “We disagree with certain legal elements, and consider that the amount of the fine is disproportionate in relation to the efforts that we have put in place”.

However, this call no longer means a questioning of neighboring rights, promises Google. While the firm had initially tried toobtain the right to use the content of publishers free of charge on its research pages – justifying its position by the traffic and the visibility it brought them through this; now is the time for reconciliation. The company thus explained that it would remain “Engaged to sign agreements in France”. With this appeal announced on September 1, the case is now in the hands of the Paris Court of Appeal.

While waiting for a new decision to be issued, Google will still have to meet the requirements of the Competition Authority, and “Present an offer of remuneration for the current uses of their protected content”, under penalty of being subject to periodic penalty payments of up to 900,000 € additional per day. GAFAM indicated that it had already started initiatives on this subject, in particular by extending its offer to more than 1,200 newspaper publishers, and by modifying several aspects of its existing contracts.

The Competition Authority wants to “mark the seriousness”

Despite this call, not sure that Google will survive without consequences. The French gendarme of the competition had let know last July through its president Isabelle de Silva that he heard well place the American giant in front of its responsibilities. “It is not for an operator to refuse the law”, specified the Competition Authority, which then considered that “Google’s behavior was part of a deliberate, elaborate and systematic strategy of non-compliance” in the context of neighboring rights negotiations. Yet adopted in 2019 in Europe and France, the legislation around the remuneration of press organizations has not yet finished talking about it.

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