Google vs French media: Paris court to rule on talks

Mariëtte Le Roux, Agence France-Presse

Posted at Oct 08 2020 11:04 AM

An illuminated Google logo is seen inside an office building in Zurich, Switzerland December 5, 2018. Picture taken with a fisheye lens. Arnd Wiegmann, Reuters/File Photo/File Photo

PARIS - A Paris appeals court is to rule Thursday on whether France's competition authority overstepped its jurisdiction in ordering Google to negotiate with media groups in a dispute about digital copyright.

The ruling comes as it was announced the US firm had made progress in those talks, and that it could be on the verge of making EU digital copyright payments to some media groups for the first time.

The keenly awaited ruling is the latest chapter in a long-running fight with European news companies demanding payment for content displayed in Google search results.

The US internet giant has refused to comply with an EU law requiring it to compensate the press for content displayed on its search engine.

Google has said that articles, pictures and videos will be shown in search results only if media groups consent to let it use them for free.

The company argues that news companies benefit in return by receiving millions of visits to their websites, while news companies have pointed out that Google makes millions from ads displayed along with news search results.

But late on Wednesday Google and French newspapers announced they had hammered out the main points of a deal that includes payment for displaying news content in search results.

In 2019, France became the first country to ratify and apply the copyright law adopted by the European Parliament that includes so-called neighboring rights that include the use of news in search results.

'Good faith'

AFP and other media groups lodged a complaint against Google with France's competition regulator last November, claiming the company was not negotiating in good faith to settle the dispute.

In April, the competition authority ordered Google "to conduct negotiations in good faith with publishers and news agencies on the remuneration for the re-use of their protected contents."

Google contested that decision.

The main issue before the competition authority -- whether Google is abusing its dominant market position -- remains to be decided, in a ruling expected early next year.

In addition to the negotiations with French newspapers, Google is in separate talks with AFP and magazine publishers.

France is not the only country where Google has come under pressure from the government to share its revenue with local media.

The Australian government has drafted a law to make Facebook and Google pay for news content it uses.