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Exclusive: French Antitrust Investigators Say Google Breached Its Orders On Talks With News Publishers – Sources

PARIS: French antitrust investigators have accused Google of failing to comply with national competition authority orders on how to conduct negotiations with publishers of copyright information, said two sources who have read the investigators’ report.

In the 93-page report, known as the Statement of Objections, investigators wrote that Google’s non-compliance was of an exceptionally serious nature, the sources said. The competition authority can impose fines of up to 10% of turnover on companies that it believes are breaking its rules.

A spokesperson for the competition authority declined to comment.

In response to a Reuters request for comment, Google, owned by Alphabet, Inc., said in a statement: “Our priority is to comply with the law and continue to negotiate in good faith with publishers, as in testify to the agreements we have made. produced with publishers in recent months. “

“We will now review the statement of objections and will work in close collaboration with the French competition authority,” he said.

In one of the first major deals in Europe to resolve a dispute over how internet giants should share their revenues with news publishers, Google agreed to pay a group of $ 76 million over three years. 121 French publishers, Reuters reported earlier this month.

The deal was touted as a major breakthrough by both Google and the publishers who signed it, but other excluded French publications were furious.

The French report on Google’s trading tactics comes at a time when countries around the world are pushing US internet giants like Google and Facebook to share more revenue with news publishers. The matter gained international attention this week when Facebook banned all news from its services in Australia on a bill there that would impose arbitration.

According to the two sources, French investigators claim that Google did not comply with the watchdog’s demands to enter into negotiations with the publishers within three months and provide all the data the watchdog felt it had. need.

The publishers lobby that signed the deal with Google, APIG, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. French news agency AFP and another media pressure group, SEPM – which did not sign a deal with Google – did not respond to requests for comment.

Reuters struck its own global deal with Google in January on terms that were not made public.

(1 USD = 0.8233 euros)

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