France Fines Google €250 Million for Breaching Intellectual Property Rules


  • France fined Google €250 million for using media content in its AI service without permission.
  • Google’s chatbot Bard, now Gemini, trained on content without notifying publishers, hindering fair negotiations.
  • The fine highlights concerns about intellectual property rights in tech companies’ dealings with content creators.

France’s competition watchdog has imposed a substantial fine of €250 million on Alphabet’s Google for violations related to EU intellectual property regulations concerning its dealings with media publishers. The fine stems from concerns regarding Google’s AI service, particularly its chatbot, previously known as Bard, now rebranded as Gemini.

Breaches and settlement proceedings

The Autorite de la Concurrence revealed that Google’s AI chatbot, Bard, was trained on content sourced from publishers and news agencies without prior notification to the concerned parties. Despite Google’s agreement not to dispute the facts, the watchdog outlined four breaches out of seven commitments made in settlement proceedings.

Google’s actions, including failing to negotiate with publishers in good faith and providing transparent information, have raised significant concerns. The company’s use of content for its AI service without consent hindered the ability of publishers and press agencies to negotiate fair compensation.

Background of the dispute

This fine results from a copyright dispute initiated in France regarding online content, prompted by complaints from major news organizations such as Agence France Presse (AFP). While a resolution seemed apparent in 2022 when Google dropped its appeal against an initial €500 million fine, the recent statement by the watchdog indicates ongoing concerns.

The dispute underscores broader challenges publishers, writers, and newsrooms face in safeguarding their online content. With the proliferation of AI services, concerns regarding unauthorized data scraping and fair compensation have intensified. The New York Times, for instance, has taken legal action against Google’s rivals, Microsoft and OpenAI, accusing them of unauthorized use of millions of articles to train chatbots.

Google’s response

Google’s office in France has not yet responded to requests for comment regarding the fine. However, the company has proposed remedial measures to address the identified shortcomings. Despite this, the fine reflects the seriousness with which regulatory authorities approach violations related to intellectual property rights in the digital landscape.

As technology evolves, regulatory bodies and stakeholders grapple with the complexities of ensuring fair and transparent practices in the digital sphere. The outcome of this case against Google serves as a precedent for future engagements between tech giants and content creators. It underscores the importance of upholding intellectual property rights while fostering innovation and collaboration in the digital ecosystem.

France’s competition watchdog’s decision to fine Google €250 million underscores the company’s failure to comply with EU intellectual property rules in its interactions with media publishers. The breaches, particularly regarding using content for its AI service without consent, highlight broader challenges content creators face in the digital age. As the digital landscape continues to evolve, regulatory scrutiny of tech companies’ practices remains crucial in ensuring a fair and equitable digital ecosystem for all stakeholders involved.

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James Kinoti

A crypto enthusiast, James finds pleasure in sharing knowledge on fintech, cryptocurrency as well as blockchain and frontier technologies. The latest innovations in the crypto industry, crypto gaming, AI, blockchain technology, and other technologies are his preoccupation. His mission: be on track with transformative applications in various industries.

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