Google faces French ruling on copyright row with media groups

Google faces French ruling on copyright row with media groups

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Paris: The French competition watchdog said on Friday that it will make a ruling on Tuesday on whether Google will negotiate with news publishers in “good faith” negotiations for the use of its content alongside search results.

This long-running legal dispute mainly revolved around the American Internet giant’s claim that it displayed articles, pictures and videos produced by media groups when displaying search results. Although online advertising revenues have undergone drastic changes, they have not received sufficient compensation.

In April 2020, after Google refused to comply with the EU’s new laws on digital copyright, the French competition authority ordered Google to negotiate with the media group in “good faith”.

The so-called “neighboring right” aims to ensure that news publishers are compensated when their works are displayed on websites, search engines and social media platforms.

But last September, news publishers including Agence France-Presse (AFP) filed a complaint with regulators, saying that Google refused to pay more to display content in online searches.

The competition authority will make a ruling on Google’s alleged abuse of monopoly power in Internet news searches later this year.

News outlets struggling with dwindling print subscriptions have long seethed at Google’s refusal to give them a cut of the millions of euros it makes from ads displayed alongside news search results.

The US giant counters that it encourages millions of people to click through to media sites, and it has also spent heavily to support media groups in other ways, including emergency funding during the Covid-19 crisis.

In the meantime, Google announced in November that it had signed “some individual agreements” on copyright payments with French newspapers and magazines, including top dailies Le Monde and Le Figaro.

AFP did not sign the accord, but its chief executive Fabrice Fries said he was “optimistic” about improved relations with Google and other internet giants such as Facebook and Apple.

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