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Antitrust investigators say Google violated the order in negotiations with news publishers-source

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Paris (Reuters)-French antitrust investigators accused Alphabet Incs Google of failing to comply with state competition authorities’ orders on how to negotiate with news publishers over copyright, investigator report Two sources who read the article said.

In a 93-page report, known as the opposition, investigators wrote that Google’s failure to comply was of a very serious nature, sources said.

This happens in a complaint from a French news publisher that Google was unable to discuss with them in good faith to find an agreement. As Reuters reported earlier this month, the same publisher wasn’t part of a $ 76 million three-year deal signed between a US company and a group of 121 publications.

The agreement, presented as a major step forward by both Google and the publishers that signed it, has infuriated many publications.

French competition authorities can fine up to 10% of sales for companies that they deem to be in breach of the rules. Google’s annual sales in 2020 were approximately $ 183 billion.

Investigation reports are an important part of the authorities’ sanctions process, but it is up to the oversight committee, led by Isabel de Silva, to decide whether to issue a penalty.

The biggest penalties ever imposed by French antitrust authorities against iPhone maker Apple Inc last year were € 1.1 billion (1.34 billion) for anti-competitive acts against its distribution and retail networks. A fine of (dollar) was imposed.

A competition official spokesman declined to comment.

In response to Reuters’ request for comment, Google said in a statement: Our priority is to comply with the law and continue to negotiate in good faith with the publisher, as evidenced by the agreements we have reached with the publisher in the last few months. ..

We will consider the opposition and work closely with the French competition authorities.

France’s report on Google’s bargaining tactics comes when countries around the world are urging US Internet giants such as Google and Facebook to share more income with news publishers. The issue received international attention this week when Facebook banned all news from services in Australia over a bill requiring arbitration in Australia.

According to two sources, a French investigator said that Google will start negotiations with the publisher within a three-month deadline and Watchdog will provide all the data that the publisher feels it needs. It states that it did not respond to the request from.

APIG, the publisher’s lobby that signed the deal with Google, didn’t immediately respond to the request for comment. Agence France-Presse AFP and another media lobby group, SEPM (neither of them signed a deal with Google), did not respond to requests for comment.

In January, Reuters signed its own global contract with Google on undisclosed terms.

($ 1 = 0.8228 euros)

Report by Mathieu Rosemain in Paris. Edited by Peter Graff and Matthew Lewis

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