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Google Under Fire: French Competition Authority's Decisive Action Against Google's Gemini Deal

French press confronts Google for breaching commitments. Competition Authority intervenes, sparking a pivotal showdown. Learn more.
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The French Competition Authority (ACDF) has imposed a record fine of 250 million euros on Google, accused of having exploited French media content to train its chatbot Bard (now Gemini), its artificial intelligence (IA) generator, without authorization or remuneration from the publishers concerned.

Google Under Fire: French Competition Authority's Decisive Action Against Google's Gemini Deal

Lack of respect for commitments on publisher remuneration

Google signed an agreement with French press publishers in 2020, guaranteeing their remuneration when using their articles in its search results pages.

Obviously, the firm would have forgotten this agreement regarding the training of Gemini, an AI-powered chatbot based on the Bard algorithm launched in 2023. According to the investigation carried out by the ACDF, Google did not request permission from the publishers to use their articles for this purpose and did not pay them accordingly.

An endless saga between Google and the French competition authority

This is not the first sanction imposed by the ACDF against Google. In the past, the company has already been convicted of various offenses related to copyright protection and data processing by press publishers.

An impact on Google's international reputation

These successive sanctions damage the credibility and reputation of Google in France and throughout the world.

If the fine of 270 million dollars (around 250 million euros) represents a significant sum, it nevertheless remains relatively modest compared to the profits made by the digital giant.

The question therefore arises as to whether these fines are sufficient to encourage Google to respect local laws.

A little reminder: what does the law say?

In the case mentioned, the law in question is neighboring right, also called right neighboring copyright. This legislation aims to protect the interests of creators and rights holders other than the authors themselves.

In France, the law on neighboring rights was strengthened in 2019 as part of the European directive on copyright in the digital single market.

More specifically, with regard to the case of Google, the ACDF issued sanctions under this law for non-compliance with the neighboring rights of press publishers. Neighboring law grants press publishers the right to control the online commercial use of their content by news aggregators such as Google.

In this context, Google is required to negotiate in good faith with press publishers to assess their remuneration for the use of their content.

This means that Google must obtain permission and pay news publishers for the use of their articles in its search results and other online services.

Failure to comply with these obligations, as described in Law No. 2019-775 of July 24, 2019, aimed at the creation of a related right for the benefit of press agencies and press publishers, constitutes a violation of the rights of press publishers and can lead to financial sanctions, as in the case of the fine of 250 million euros imposed on Google by the French Competition Authority.

Google's Impact on French Press - FAQ

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