Google appeals €500m French antitrust fine

Google France head lambasts "disproportionate" penalty

Google announced on Wednesday that it is appealing against the €500m (US$592.3m, £429m) fine handed down to it by France’s antitrust regulator last month. 

The copyright dispute concerned the US technology giant’s use of local news content, and centred on whether it had broken temporary orders issued by the Autorité de la concurrence. 

Ruling and response

In its July ruling, the body fined Google for failing to adhere with its orders on how to conduct talks with publishers, and ordered the company to produce proposals within the next two months outlining how it will pay news agencies and publishers for their content.

In addition to the €500m penalty, the firm faces further fines of up to €900,000 per day should it fail to come up with a plan. 

Speaking on Wednesday, Sebastian Missoffe, head of Google France, stated: “We disagree with a number of legal elements, and believe that the fine is disproportionate to our efforts to reach an agreement and comply with the new law.”

He added: “We continue to work hard to resolve this case and put deals in place. This includes expanding offers to 1,200 publishers, clarifying aspects of our contracts, and sharing more data as requested by the French competition authority.”

States battle with big tech

2020 saw the launch of Google’s News Showcase service, through which it claims it will pay $1bn in three years to collaborating publishers. 

The year before, the European Union introduced a new copyright directive, which allowed publishers to charge for the display of small pieces of news in search engine results. 

Similar showdowns have occurred beyond Europe. Last year the Australian government ordered both Google and Facebook to pay news outlets for the right to use their stories. The battle became so acrimonious that, at one point, Facebook limited Australians from viewing or sharing news stories on its popular platform. 

Alphabet, Google’s parent firm, traded up by 0.6% in mid-morning (EDT) trading at $2,911.68, up 68% since the start of the year. 

Alphabet Inc
Daily change
Low: 2756.54
High: 2836.99

Further reading: Alphabet sees record profit as people stay at home

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