The French Competition Authority accepts Google's binding commitments to act in good faith when negotiating payment for the use of the protected contents of press agencies and publishers.
This decision closes the procedure opened more than two years ago with the complaint of publishers who denounced practices implemented by Google following the incorporation of copyright rules and related rights into national law in 2019.
In order to comply with the law, Google decided to no longer display excerpts of articles and photographs within its services, unless publishers allowed it to do so for free. In practice, most press publishers granted Google free licenses for the use and display of their protected content without any negotiation.
- Competition concerns
The French Competition Authority identified the following competition concerns:
- Google was suspected of imposing unfair trading conditions by refusing to negotiate and pay for displaying protected press content on Google's existing services under related rights;
- By providing zero remuneration for all press agencies and publishers without examining their respective situations, Google is likely to have engaged in a discriminatory practice; and
- Google had provided the possibility for news agencies and publishers to grant free licences to systematically circumvent the law and to avoid any remuneration for the display of protected content on its services.
Google has committed to lead good faith negotiations with press agencies and publishers who request remuneration for any reproduction of protected content on its services, according to transparent, objective and non-discriminatory criteria.
Google has also committed to communicate to press publishers and agencies the information necessary for a transparent evaluation of the proposed remuneration.
Finally, Google will ensure that the negotiations do not affect the indexing, ranking or presentation of protected content and do not affect any other economic relationship that may exist between Google and news publishers or agencies.
The final set of commitments are compulsory for a period of five years with the possibility of it being renewed for a further five years.
The full decision of the French Competition Authority is available here (in French).
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