In a decision made public today, the French Competition Authority imposes a penalty of EUR 500 million on Google for having disregarded several injunctions issued as part of its interim measures decision of April 2020 (decision no. 20-MC-01 of 9 April 2020).
AFP and two press publisher associations (APIG and SEPM) filed a complaint against Google before the Competition Authority in November 2019 against the American giant's refusal to pay for the display of press content on its search engines, in application of neighbouring rights introduced by the French law of 24 July 2019 implementing EU Directive 2019/70 on copyright and related rights in the Digital Single Market.
On 9 April 2020, the Authority ordered Google to enter into good faith negotiations with press agencies and publishers. The Paris Court of Appeal confirmed the injunctions issued by the Authority. Taking the view that the negotiations conducted by Google violated the terms of this decision, AFP and the press publishers referred the matter to the Authority once again on 2 September 2020, claiming that the injunctions had not been respected.
In today's decision, the Authority found that the injunctions had not been complied with and imposed heavy penalties.
Commenting on today's decision, the President of the French Competition Authority, Isabelle de Silva, said: "The penalty of EUR 500 million takes into account the exceptional seriousness of the breaches found and the fact that Google's behaviour has led to a further delay in the proper application of the law on neighbouring rights, which was intended to take better account of the value of the content of publishers and press agencies that is included on the platforms".
AFP was represented by Gide, with partners Antoine Choffel and Julien Guinot-Deléry.
APIG was represented by Latham & Watkins (Adrien Giraud), while SEPM was represented by De Pardieu Brocas Maffei (Philippe Guibert and Laetitia Gavoty).