By Mauro Orru 

Alphabet Inc.'s Google is appealing a fine that France's Competition Authority imposed on the company for allegedly violating orders to negotiate paid deals with news publishers.

The French regulator fined Google 500 million euros ($590.4 million) in July after saying that the company had violated its April 2020 orders to negotiate with publishers for the right to show snippets of their content in its search results.

Such orders came after complaints from publishers that Google was sidestepping France's implementation of a new European Union copyright directive.

"We are appealing the French Competition Authority's decision which relates to our negotiations between April and August 2020. We disagree with a number of legal elements, and believe that the fine is disproportionate to our efforts to reach an agreement and comply with the new law," Sebastien Missoffe, vice president and country manager for Google France, said Wednesday.

The French authority had accused Google of not allowing news agencies, such as Agence France-Presse, to seek payment for articles that appeared on other outlets' websites that come up in Google search results.

It had also said that Google didn't provide sufficient information to publishers to evaluate what revenue they should receive, and that it was pushing publishers to sign deals for Google's News Showcase product, without distinct payments for news in general search results.

The decision mostly related to the period before September 2020, since Google has subsequently struck deals with several French publishers, such as Le Monde and Le Figaro, and is in talks with others.

"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 we are sharing more data as requested by the French Competition Authority in their July decision," Mr. Missoffe said.

Google's decision to appeal comes amid a heated debate over how and whether tech companies should pay publishers for news that is available via their platforms.

Publishers have long argued that they deserve a share of revenue since news is a big hit for Google and other tech companies, which say they already send publishers tens of billions of website visits a month.

In March, Google struck deals with several news organizations and editorial groups in Italy to feature their content on its new Google News Showcase platform in exchange for remuneration.

Google also struck a deal in February with News Corp., the owner of Dow Jones.


Write to Mauro Orru at; @MauroOrru94


(END) Dow Jones Newswires

September 01, 2021 06:40 ET (10:40 GMT)

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