Google gets a $272 million fine from the French government over a media licensing deal.

The French Competition Authority says that the tech giant doesn’t keep its promises and doesn’t deal with publishers in “good faith.”

The competition watchdog in France fined Google €250 million ($272 million) for breaking its promises to media companies about licensing material.

The French Competition Authority said on Wednesday that the fine was part of extra steps being taken because of a case that groups representing French magazines and newspapers brought against the US tech giant and other online platforms in 2019. The news organizations said that the tech companies were making billions off of their material without giving any of the money to the people who created it.

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Google was fined €500 million ($592 million) by the watchdog in 2021 for not negotiating in good faith. When the company dropped its challenge against the fine in 2022, it looked like the problem was over.

In Wednesday’s statement, the authority said Google broke four of the seven promises made in the settlement. These promises included negotiating with authors in “good faith” and giving clear information.

The watchdog group said that Google’s chatbot Bard (now called Gemini), which is powered by AI, was taught by material from publishers and news agencies without telling them.

The body said that Google promised not to dispute the facts as part of the settlement process. The company also suggested a number of ways to fix some problems.

It was time for the tech giant to move on, so it agreed to the settlement. 

It said the fine was too high and that the watchdog hadn’t taken its work “in an environment where it’s very hard to set a course because we can’t predict which way the wind will blow next” into account enough.

Putting limits on robotic data collection

This is the fourth time in the past four years that Google has been fined for not following the rules set by the European Union’s laws that are meant to

“Neighbouring rights” are a type of copyright that the EU made in 2019 and let print media ask for payment for using other people’s material.

After some initial resistance, both Google and Facebook agreed to pay some.

Many publishers, writers, and newsrooms want to stop AI services from scraping (automatically collecting data) their online material without their permission or fair payment. This is why the latest fine was given.

In 2023, the New York Times sued Microsoft, a competitor of Google, and OpenAI, the company that made the popular AI platform ChatGPT. The newspaper said that the companies had used millions of its articles to train chatbots without approval.

A number of other EU countries have also taken Google to task over news material.

Last year, Spain’s competition watchdog started looking into Google for what it said were unfair business practices that hurt news organizations and press publications.

Berlin’s antitrust agency put off an investigation into Google’s News Showcase service in 2022 after the tech giant made “important adjustments” to calm worries about competition.

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