Google penalized for not providing a way for publishers to opt out of having content ingested for AI training purposes

Ben Wodecki, Jr. Editor

March 21, 2024

2 Min Read
Wide angle of large conference display with logo for Google Inc at night
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The French competition authority has fined Google $272 million for breaching an agreement with publishers over reproducing content online.

The Autorité de la Concurrence said Google used media content from press agencies to train its Bard chatbot, now known as Gemini, without permission.

The regulator said Google failed to provide a way for publishers to opt out of having their content used to train its AI.

Google’s failure to offer a mechanism to opt out of AI training obstructed the ability of press agencies and publishers to negotiate remuneration, it said.

Google only introduced a technical solution for press agencies to opt out of AI training in September of 2023, some six months after Bard was launched.

“Until this date, press agencies and publishers wanting to opt out of this use had to insert an instruction opposing any crawling of their content by Google, including on the Search, Discover and Google News services, which were the subject of negotiation for the remuneration of related rights,” the authority said.

Google opted not to contest the facts as part of a settlement agreement but described the fine as “disproportionate.”

In a blog post, Sulina Connal, Google’s managing director for news and publishing partnerships wrote that the competition authority did not consider the efforts Google made to respond to concerns from publishers.

Related:French MPs Seek Changes on EU Copyright Rules for AI

Google also took issue with the lack of legal clarity around AI training rules.

“The absence of clear regulatory measures and successive legal actions have complicated negotiations with publishers and prevent us from calmly considering our future investments in the field of information in France,” Connal wrote.

Google’s publisher battle dates back to 2019 when some of France’s biggest news media complained online aggregators under EU law weren’t fairly remunerating them.

The EU’s Copyright Directive of 2019 imposed rules on online aggregators like Google, forcing them to pay press publishers for showing their news content. Platforms like Google are also required to provide news publishers with information on the use of their content.

France raced ahead of other EU nations to impose the directive’s rules. After some initial resistance, Google and others agreed to pay French platforms to show their articles.

Google and others initially resisted, but in 2020 French competition authority ordered the search giant to negotiate licensing deals with publishers.

In July of 2021, Google was fined $510 million for failing to comply. In 2022, the company struck an agreement with publishers.

Related:Google Applies AI Model to Improve Search ‘Snippets’

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ChatGPT / Generative AI

About the Author(s)

Ben Wodecki

Jr. Editor

Ben Wodecki is the Jr. Editor of AI Business, covering a wide range of AI content. Ben joined the team in March 2021 as assistant editor and was promoted to Jr. Editor. He has written for The New Statesman, Intellectual Property Magazine, and The Telegraph India, among others. He holds an MSc in Digital Journalism from Middlesex University.

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