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Photo illustration: Soumyabrata Roy/NurPhoto via Getty Images

French competition regulators said Tuesday they are fining Google 500 million euros, or roughly $593 million, for failing to comply with copyright rules around negotiating payment terms for news publishers.

Why it matters: It's the latest in a string of competition penalties and investigations Google has faced abroad and at home, several of which concern the way Google compensates news publishers for distributing their work.

  • In June, Google agreed to pay French regulators $267 million for abusing its market position in advertising. Google agreed to overhaul its ad practices in response to the fine. That same month, The European Commission opened a formal antitrust investigation into Google for similar issues.

Details: According to a statement, French regulators say Google failed to negotiate terms in good faith with several publishers and publishing groups, including The Syndicate of magazine press publishers (SEPM), the Alliance de Presse d'Information Générale (APIG) and Agence France Presse (AFP).

  • Google says it's "very disappointed with this decision" and that it has "acted in good faith throughout the entire process," per a spokesperson.
  • "The fine ignores our efforts to reach an agreement, and the reality of how news works on our platforms," Google said.

Last year, regulators came up with a set of temporary provisions that would force Google to negotiate terms with publishers within three months of publishers coming to the bargaining table.

  • The terms also mandated that Google act in good faith when negotiating such "neighboring rights," or royalties for things like sound, pictures or video, with publishers. This meant Google couldn't penalize a news outlet in search results, for example, when negotiating with them.
  • "To date, Google is the only company to have announced agreements on neighbouring rights," Google said. "We are also about to finalize an agreement with AFP that includes a global licensing agreement, as well as the remuneration of their neighbouring rights for their press publications. “

Catch up quick: In 2019, European regulators approved a copyright directive that includes a provision that forces tech companies to pay publishers for their content that is distributed in Google's search results and Facebook's News Feed.

  • France was the first EU member state to ratify the law in 2019. Regulators quickly thereafter accused Google of undermining the rules when it tried to enter negotiations with publishers.
  • Google and rival Facebook both argued that the copyright law didn't make sense, given how their businesses work. They both introduced new products, that they could use to negotiate terms around distribution.
  • In 2020, Google developed a new product called Google News Showcase, and committed to paying over $1 billion to publishers globally for their content.
  • French regulators are accusing Google now of trying to negotiate terms with publishers only for the content that appears within Google's new Showcase product, and not the content that appears within search.

What's next: French competition authorities say Google has two months to come up with new negotiation terms with the publishers, or else it risks a penalty of 900,000 euros per day for every day that new terms aren't established.

Go deeper

Jul 29, 2021 - Technology

Ad boom rains billions on Big Tech

Data: Company filings; Chart: Axios Visuals

Advertising growth was the chief driver of tech's blowout quarter, as the economy snapped back from the pandemic and a long-term shift to digital went into overdrive.

By the numbers: Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Google all posted record ad revenue growth rates in earnings reports for 2021's second quarter.

Manhattan, Westchester prosecutors request evidence from Cuomo investigation

Gov. Cuomo during a press conference in New York City on Aug. 2. Photo: Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

The district attorneys for Manhattan and Westchester County on Wednesday requested evidence related to New York Attorney General Letitia James' investigation into sexual harassment allegations against Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), according to a letter obtained by NBC News.

Why it matters: The district attorneys are investigating if alleged conduct highlighted in an independent report published by James' office that occurred in their jurisdictions was criminal in nature.

Scoop: Buzzy media startup Puck launches in beta

Puck.news

Puck, a splashy new digital media company, is coming out of stealth mode, Axios has learned. The company debuted its landing page, puck.news, on Wednesday, and will officially launch its website in September.

Why it matters: The company has been quietly building a roster of top talent, but hadn't confirmed its branding or exact business plans up until now.