Google announced Wednesday that it will appeal the €500 million (US $591 million) fine imposed by Autorité de la concurrence (“Autorité”), the French antitrust body, in July. The penalty was issued in response to mounting international pressure on online platforms to share more of the revenue generated by the use of news from local media outlets.
Google France head Sebastien Missoffe called the fine “disproportionate” given the company’s “efforts to reach an agreement and comply with the new law.” He stated:
We continue to work hard to resolve this case and put deals in place. This includes expanding offers to 1,200 publishers, clarifying aspects of our contracts, and sharing more data as requested by the French Competition Authority.
In 2019, the EU updated its digital copyright rules introducing a new right for press publishers for the online use of their publication. “Authors of works incorporated in the press publication will be entitled to a share of the press publisher’s revenue deriving from this new right.” Google News and other online sharing platforms have lifted content from press publications shared them on their sites for years.
Autorité said that Google will still have to pay the fine by the set due date, regardless of its appeal. It is unclear how long the appeal will take or how Google would recover said fine if it wins the appeal. Generally, such contested fines are held in escrow until the matter is resolved. Autorité stated in its July decision that Google has to propose plans within two months on how it will compensate the local news agencies for using their content. Failure to do so could result in additional fines amounting to €900,000 per day.