In its latest move to placate European competition regulators, Google has offered a set of commitments to France’s antitrust watchdog — in the hopes of settling a costly (for it) intervention over legally mandated payments for displaying snippets of news publishers’ content.
Back in July, France’s Autorité de la Concurrence slapped the tech giant with a fine of half a billion euros over a series of suspected breaches in how it negotiated with news publishers to remunerate them for reuse of their content.
The backstory here is the European Union agreed to a reform of digital copyright rules, back in 2019, which (among other changes) extended copyright law to cover snippets of news publishers’ content that were being routinely reused by aggregators like Google News.
While there was plenty of criticism of the reform at the time, the directive has given the bloc’s news publishers leverage over Google and does appear to have contributed to the adtech giant’s decision to abandon its earlier hard line stance — of saying it would never pay a penny for news content — in favor of creating its own content licensing product aimed at news publishers.
However that News Showcase product looked like a cynical attempt by Google to more cheaply circumvent legal requirements by using a global news licensing vehicle to bundle compliance with a growing number of national laws on news content remuneration (see also: Australia, which earlier this year passed a law…