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France fines Google 1.1 million euros over hotel rankings practices

A probe found that Google's hotel rankings could be misleading for consumers. 

FILE PHOTO: The Google logo is seen at the Young Entrepreneurs fair in Paris, France, February 7, 2018. REUTERS/Charles Platiau/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: The Google logo is seen at the Young Entrepreneurs fair in Paris, France, February 7, 2018. REUTERS/Charles Platiau/File Photo (REUTERS)

Google Ireland and Google France have agreed to pay a 1.1 million euros ($1.34 million) fine after a probe found that Google's hotel rankings could be misleading for consumers, France's finance ministry and fraud watchdog said on Monday.

The ministry and watchdog also said in a statement that Google has amended its hotel rankings practices since September 2019.

And this is not the only fine Google is set to pay. The company has agreed to pay $76 million over three years to a group of 121 French news publishers to end a more than year-long copyright spat, documents seen by Reuters show.

The agreement between Google and the Alliance de la presse d'information generale (APIG), a lobby group representing most major French publishers, was announced previously, but financial terms had not been disclosed.

The move infuriated many other French outlets, which deemed it unfair and opaque. Publishers in other countries will scrutinise the French agreement, the highest-profile in the world under Google's new program to provide compensation for news snippets used in search results.

Also Read: Google's $76 mn deal with French publishers leaves many outlets infuriated

Agence France-Presse (AFP) and other French news providers that do not belong to the group are not part of the agreement and are pressing forward with various actions against Google.

The accord follows France's implementation of the first copyright rule enacted under a recent European Union law that creates "neighbouring rights," requiring large tech platforms to open talks with publishers seeking remuneration for use of news content.

The French documents seen by Reuters include a framework agreement in which Google will pay $22 million annually for three years to a group of 121 national and local French news publications after signing individual licensing agreements with each.

The second document is a settlement agreement under which Google agrees to pay $10 million to the same group in exchange for the publishers' commitment not to sue over copyright claims for three years.

Publishers would commit to an upcoming new product called Google News Showcase that would allow publishers to curate content and provide limited access to paywalled stories.

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