Neighboring right: the French Competition Authority ends its proceedings against Google – Image

The Competition Authority put an end to the litigation procedure between the French media and Google on Tuesday in the neighboring rights file, by accepting the commitments made by the American Internet giant, she announced. “The Authority considers that the commitments proposed by Google are likely to put an end to the competition concerns expressed,” she said in a press release. This litigation was opened in November 2019 by the Syndicate of Magazine Press Publishers (SEPM), the Alliance of General Information Press and AFP. All claimed that Google remunerates them under neighboring rights in the context of the use of their content. In July 2021, the Competition Authority had fined Google 500 million euros for not having negotiated “in good faith” with press publishers. This conviction becomes final, Google having undertaken to withdraw its appeal, the Competition Authority said on Tuesday. Google had published the first commitments in mid-December, which were subjected to a market test by the Authority. Others were then formulated in April/May. The American giant undertakes in particular to “negotiate in good faith” with publishers and press agencies who so wish and “to make a compensation proposal” within three months, as well as to provide technical information “allowing an evaluation transparency of the compensation offered by Google”. These commitments, which become mandatory, “will apply for a period of 5 years, and will be renewable once for a period of 5 years”, underlined the Authority.

Since the conflict began to unravel in recent months, some 140 publications have signed remuneration contracts with Google under “neighbouring rights”, pursuant to framework agreements concluded in March with the Alliance and then in April with the SEPM, Google told AFP on June 13. In addition to these two framework agreements, Google signed an agreement with AFP in November 2021, as well as other individual agreements with newspapers, such as Le Monde, which represent around “a dozen” titles. All amounts are confidential.

A “sustainable framework” is set

Rights related to copyright were established for digital platforms in 2019 by a European directive. They allow newspapers, magazines or press agencies to be paid when their content is reused on the internet by giants like Google, whose search engine displays press extracts in its results pages. Their implementation stems from a tough battle, as the principle was opposed by the giants of the net, in particular Google. “We have described that we have gone as far as possible with the instruments of competition. Competition Authority, Benoît Coeuré, during a press conference presenting Tuesday’s decision. According to him, France “is probably the country in the world where Google has conceded the most in respect of obligations to an independent third party” and the decision “will feed the European debate”. “The decision of the Competition Authority validates the commitments that we have written with all the parties concerned and closes a chapter that has been open for several years”, reacted for his part the general manager of Google France, Sébastien Missoffe, in a press release. . According to him, “it is a historic decision which sets a sustainable framework for the remuneration of publishers and press agencies, and journalists, within the framework of French law”.

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