Google complies with injunctions to negotiate “in good faith” –

The French competition watchdog indicated on Tuesday (June 21) that it accepted Google’s commitments in the context of negotiations with press publishers for neighboring rights. At the same time, the American giant waives its right to challenge its fine of 500 million euros.

The Competition Authority (AdlC) is effectively closing the proceedings opened since November 2019 against Google.

She accepted on Tuesday (June 21) the commitments of the American company in the context of discussions with publishers and press agencies for the remuneration due under “neighboring rights”, while Google takes over articles and photos from presses on its search engine and in other of its services like Google News.

Since the law of July 24, 2019, press agencies and publishers can claim compensation for the reuse of their journalistic content by search engines, such as Google, or platforms, such as Facebook. The law follows a European directive, promulgated in April 2019, which France was the first to transpose in the EU.

But Google didn’t quite hear it that way, and preferred to drag its feet. Faced with this observation, the AdlC had urged Google in April 2020 to implement negotiations “ in good faith “.

In the absence of significant changes in the discussions between the American company and the press publishers, the competition policeman ended up imposing a fine of 500 million euros on Google in July 2021, accompanied by a penalty payment of up to 900,000 euros per day of delay in complying with its injunctions.

The AdlC had concluded that Google was still not conducting negotiations “ in good faith with the French press, in particular by directing the discussions towards the conclusion of a global license agreement, within the framework of its new service called Showcase, by excluding press content from a non-certified title “Political and General Information (or “IPG”) and denying news agencies any compensation for content picked up by news publishers.

After months of exchanges between the competition policeman and the American giant, as well as consultations with stakeholders, Google sent on May 9 its final proposal for the measures it would undertake to take.

The Autorité considers that the commitments proposed by Google are likely to put an end to the competition concerns expressed and are substantial, credible and verifiable. “Said the organization in a press release, specifying that they become mandatory and for a period of 5 years, initially.

The American company thus undertakes to broaden the scope of the negotiations, to all publishers, press agencies included, to transmit the information necessary for the evaluation ” transparent “remuneration and lead discussions” based on transparent, objective and non-discriminatory criteria “, in particular by distinguishing the negotiations for neighboring rights from that of its Showcase offer.

“For the first time in Europe, the commitments made by Google provide a dynamic framework for negotiation and sharing of the information necessary for a transparent assessment of the remuneration of direct and indirect neighboring rights”, welcomed the president of the Authority, Benoît Cœuré.

Finally, Google has finally given up contesting its fine, which therefore becomes final.

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