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Google fined almost $600M in France's second-largest antitrust penalty

By
Zarrin Ahmed
A view of Google's first retail store in New York City on June 17. Google said Tuesday it's disappointed with the French regulator's decision.  Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
A view of Google's first retail store in New York City on June 17. Google said Tuesday it's "disappointed" with the French regulator's decision.  Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

July 13 (UPI) -- A French antitrust watchdog on Tuesday fined tech giant Google almost $600 million, saying the company essentially ignored an order last year to work fairly with publishers to display news content on its platform.

The regulator, the Autorite de la concurrence, handed down the $593 million fine -- which is the second-largest antitrust penalty ever given in France to one company.

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The watchdog ordered Google a year ago to stop evading the law and to negotiate in good faith with publishers that produce content. The issue was brought by outlets that grew frustrated with Google's use of their content without paying for it.

The regulator said Google "disregarded several injunctions" from its 2020 order, which said the company must negotiate with news outlets to display articles in search results and other services.

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The fine comes after the watchdog found that the company stopped displaying snippets of content in Google News in France alone, circumventing neighboring news rights.

The agency noted major breaches in how Google negotiated with publishers to reuse their content.

In addition to the fine, the competition authority ordered Google to present an offer of remuneration for current uses of publishers' content within two months. If it fails to do that, Google could face penalties of up to $1 million per day of delay.

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In February, the tech giant signed a deal to pay a group of 121 publishers more than $76 million over three years for content.

Google responded to the ruling with disappointment, saying that it has complied with the 2020 order. The company told BBC News that the decision "ignores our efforts to reach an agreement."

"We are very disappointed with this decision," it added. "We have acted in good faith throughout the entire process."

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