French anti-trust decision on Google's copyright talks with publishers due in coming days


FILE PHOTO: The logo of Google is seen on a building at La Defense business and financial district in Courbevoie near Paris, France, September 1, 2020. REUTERS/Charles Platiau/File Photo

PARIS (Reuters) -France's anti-trust watchdog will make a decision in the coming days over the way Google held copyright talks with some French publishers about paying for news content, the watchdog's head Isabelle de Silva said on Thursday.

Antitrust investigators have accused Alphabet's Google of failing to comply with the state competition authority's orders on how to conduct negotiations with news publishers over copyright, sources who read the investigators' report have said.

Several publishers complained the talks weren't made in "good faith" and that Google didn't provide access to some of its traffic data to determine a remuneration for news content online.

Google has repeatedly said it held talks in good faith.

Under a three-year framework agreement signed by Google and the Alliance de la presse d'information generale (APIG), a lobby group representing most major French publishers, Google agreed in January to pay a total of $76 million to 121 publications, according to documents seen by Reuters.

It is one of the highest-profile deals under Google's "News Showcase" programme to provide compensation for news snippets used in search results, and the first of its kind in Europe.

However, no individual licensing agreement has been signed by Google with an APIG member since then and talks are de facto frozen pending the antitrust decision, sources have told Reuters.

(Reporting by Mathieu RosemainEditing by Sudip Kar-Gupta and Mark Potter)

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