French Com­pe­ti­ti­on Aut­ho­ri­ty deci­des against Goog­le

Goog­le under­ta­kes to agree with French press publis­hers on com­pen­sa­ti­on for press con­tent wit­hin three mon­ths

Press Release
Ber­lin, 2020-04-09

The French com­pe­ti­ti­on aut­ho­ri­ty (Auto­ri­té de la con­cur­rence) has accep­ted a com­p­laint from French press publis­hers and the AFP news agen­cy today. The com­p­laint was direc­ted against attempts by Goog­le to under­mi­ne the press pro­tec­tion law, which came into effect in Fran­ce last year to imple­ment the new EU copy­right direc­ti­ve. The agen­cy found that Google’s prac­ti­ces are likely to be an abu­se of a domi­nant posi­ti­on and are serious­ly and direct­ly dama­ging to the press sec­tor. In order to coun­ter this dan­ger, Goog­le is obli­ged to nego­tia­te with publis­hers and press agen­ci­es over the remu­ne­ra­ti­on for the use of their pro­tec­ted press con­tent wit­hin three mon­ths. Past use should also be taken into account, from the ent­ry into for­ce of the law on Octo­ber 24, 2019.

The pro­ce­du­re befo­re the com­pe­ti­ti­on aut­ho­ri­ty was initia­ted in Novem­ber 2019 by press publis­hers (Syn­di­cat des édi­teurs de la pres­se maga­zi­ne, l’Al­li­an­ce de la pres­se d ’ infor­ma­ti­on géné­ra­le) and the Agence Fran­ce-Pres­se (AFP). With this rapid decisi­on, the aut­ho­ri­ty is respon­ding to the immedia­te dan­ger of irrepa­ra­ble dama­ge that the app­li­cants face from Google’s anti-com­pe­ti­ti­ve beha­vi­or. Fol­lowing the ent­ry into for­ce of the ancil­la­ry copy­right law in Fran­ce, Goog­le had uni­la­te­ral­ly deci­ded to dis­play excerp­ts from arti­cles, pho­to­graphs, com­pu­ter gra­phics and vide­os about its ser­vices only to a very limi­ted extent — unless the right­hol­ders agreed to free use by Goog­le.

A fur­ther decisi­on by the com­pe­ti­ti­on aut­ho­ri­ty on this mat­ter has alrea­dy been sche­du­led for autumn 2020.

VG Media sup­por­ted the com­p­laint from publis­hers and news agen­ci­es as much as was pos­si­ble in this pro­cess, reco­gnis­ing publis­hers face the same chal­len­ges in Ger­ma­ny and in the EU as a who­le. The new EU copy­right direc­ti­ve means all other EU mem­ber sta­tes will also crea­te an ancil­la­ry copy­right for press publis­hers, which will have to be enfor­ced against power­ful digi­tal com­pa­nies like Goog­le. In the EU, a lar­ge­ly uni­fied anti­trust law app­lies, on the basis of which VG Media is alrea­dy taking action against Goog­le for press publis­hers. The decisi­on of the French com­pe­ti­ti­on aut­ho­ri­ty is the­re­fo­re of Euro­pean impor­t­ance.

Mar­kus Run­de, Mana­ging Direc­tor of VG Media: “Today’s decisi­on is a signi­fi­cant suc­cess for the reso­lu­te French press publis­hers, and owes thanks to the pro­found under­stan­ding of the rea­li­ties in the press and plat­form mar­kets and the posi­ti­ve atti­tu­de of the French government. The decisi­on shows the way to suc­cess­ful­ly enfor­ce the rights of press publis­hers across the Euro­pean Uni­on”.

Copyright International Media