French antitrust decision on Google's copyright talks with publishers due soon

PARIS (REUTERS) – France’s antitrust watchdog will make a decision in the coming days over the way Google held copyright talks with some French publishers about paying for news content, the watchdog’s head Isabelle de Silva said on Thursday (July 8).

Antitrust investigators have accused Alphabet’s Google of failing to comply with the state competition authority’s orders on how to conduct negotiations with news publishers over copyright, sources who read the investigators’ report have said.

Several publishers complained the talks were not made in “good faith” and that Google did not provide access to some of its traffic data to determine a remuneration for news content online.

Google has repeatedly said it held talks in good faith.

Under a three-year framework agreement signed by Google and the Alliance de la presse d’information generale (APIG), a lobby group representing most major French publishers, Google agreed in January to pay a total of US$76 million (S$103 million) to 121 publications, according to documents seen by Reuters.

It is one of the highest-profile deals under Google’s “News Showcase” programme to provide compensation for news snippets used in search results, and the first of its kind in Europe.

However, no individual licencing agreement has been signed by Google with an APIG member since then and talks are de facto frozen pending the antitrust decision, sources have told Reuters.

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