Published on March 20, 2024, 6:15 pm

Google recently faced repercussions from France’s competition authority for its use of copyright news articles to train its Bard AI without adequately compensating publishers or providing them with an option to opt out. The authority fined Google, alongside its parent company Alphabet and two subsidiaries, a sum of €250 million ($271 million) for violating a previous agreement related to the utilization of copyrighted content in training its Bard AI, now called Gemini.

According to the Autorité de la concurrence, Google did not fulfill its obligations outlined in a settlement from June 2022 regarding the utilization of news stories in search results, News, and Discover pages. Despite pledging during the settlement to engage in fair negotiations with news providers over compensation for their content, Google failed to uphold these promises.

Specifically, Google was supposed to offer news agencies and publishers a transparent evaluation of their remuneration for usage rights and ensure that these negotiations did not affect other business relationships between Google and the publishers. However, the authority found that Google lacked transparency by withholding necessary information for monitoring the agreement promptly and failing to disclose how it profits from news content.

Moreover, Google was accused of using news content without permission from publishers to train its Bard AI (now Gemini) and neglecting to provide a mechanism for publishers to opt out of this usage. This failure to inform editors and press agencies about utilizing their content for Bard was deemed a violation of transparency obligations by the authority.

In response to this ruling, Google shared an official blog post expressing disagreement with the fine’s magnitude but stating that it would comply with the decision rather than challenging it. The company introduced Google Extended in September 2023 as a tool for publishers to opt out of having their material used in training Bard.

This incident marks another chapter in the ongoing dispute between tech giants like Google and regulatory authorities concerning fair compensation and transparency when using third-party content.

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