France fines Google €250 million for copyright infringement

The fine is linked to a copyright dispute triggered by complaints from major news organisations.


France’s competition watchdog has issued a fine of €250 million to Google, citing breaches related to the EU intellectual property rules in its dealings with media publishers. The competition watchdog stated that Google’s AI chatbot, Gemini (formerly known as Bard), trained its AI on content from publishers and news agencies without their consent or notification.

The legal move is linked to the copyright dispute in France regarding online content, initially triggered by complaints from major news organisations such as Agence France Presse (AFP ). Google has chosen not to contest the allegations and has proposed remedy measures to address the identified shortcomings. However, the company’s French office has not yet responded to requests for comment. 

Despite a seeming resolution to the dispute in 2022, when Google appealed the €500 million fine, the watchdog now asserts that Google violated the settlement terms. Specifically, Google failed to uphold commitments, including negotiating with publishers in good faith and providing transparent information. The watchdog highlighted Google’s use of its AI chatbot Bard, which utilised data from media outlets and news agencies without proper notification, hindering publishers’ ability to negotiate fair prices.

Why does it matter?

This fine comes amidst a broader context where publishers and newsrooms increasingly seek to protect their content from unauthorised use by AI services. In 2023, The New York Times took legal action against Google rivals Microsoft and OpenAI, alleging the unauthorised use of millions of its articles to train chatbots. The case underscores the growing tension between tech giants and content creators over fair compensation and control of intellectual property in the digital age.