Updated March 20th, 2024 at 16:43 IST

France fines Google €250 million over breaches in media publisher relations

The French competition watchdog alleged that Google's AI-powered chatbot Gemini was trained using content from media houses without proper authorisation.

Reported by: Business Desk
Google Gemini news | Image:Unsplash
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Google fine news: France's competition watchdog levied a hefty fine of €250 million ($271.73 million) against Alphabet's Google on Wednesday for violations related to EU intellectual property regulations concerning its dealings with media publishers. This fine, imposed by France's Autorite de la Concurrence, stems from concerns regarding Google's use of its AI service in a manner that allegedly breached EU intellectual property rules.

The watchdog highlighted Google's AI-powered chatbot, initially known as Bard and later rebranded as Gemini, which it claims was trained using content from media publishers and news agencies without obtaining proper authorisation. Google, in response, has agreed not to contest the allegations as part of the settlement process. Additionally, the tech giant has proposed a series of remedial measures to address the identified shortcomings.

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In a statement following the announcement, Google expressed its acceptance of the settlement, emphasising the need to move forward. The company asserted its commitment to fostering sustainable methods of connecting users with quality content and working collaboratively with French publishers. However, Google criticised the magnitude of the fine, arguing that the regulator failed to adequately consider the challenges faced in navigating an unpredictable regulatory environment.

This fine is part of a broader copyright dispute in France concerning online content, originally triggered by complaints from prominent news organisations such as Agence France Presse (AFP). While it appeared that the matter had been resolved in 2022 following Google's decision to drop its appeal against an initial €500 million fine, the recent statement from the watchdog indicates ongoing concerns.

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The Autorite de la Concurrence stated that Google had violated four out of seven commitments made as part of the settlement, including engaging in negotiations with publishers in good faith and ensuring transparency. Specifically, the watchdog cited Google's use of its AI chatbot Bard, alleging that it utilised data from media outlets and news agencies without proper authorisation, thereby impeding fair negotiations between publishers and press agencies.

In a related development, The New York Times initiated legal action against Microsoft and OpenAI in 2023, accusing them of unauthorised use of its articles to train AI chatbots. Amidst these challenges, Google emphasised the need for greater clarity regarding compensation mechanisms in the digital content ecosystem.

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(With Reuters inputs.)

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Published March 20th, 2024 at 16:43 IST