French watchdog fines Google 250M euros for AI IP infringement

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Big Tech giant Google accepted a fine of 250 million euros from the French competition authorities on the grounds of a breach of EU copyright laws during AI training.

French watchdog fines Google 250M euros for AI IP infringement

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Google has accepted a fine from the French government’s competition watchdog for a past breach of European Union intellectual property (IP) laws relating to its media publishers. 

The French competition authority cited concerns about Google’s AI service, Gemini, previously known as Bard, alleging it was trained on content from local publishers and news agencies without the proper notification and clearance.

On its French-language blog, Google responded to the fine, claiming to be the “first and only platform” to have licensing agreements with 280 French press publishers, which amounts to “several tens of millions of euros per year.”

According to the Big Tech company, the fine from French authorities is a result of “the way” it conducted negotiations with the firms, along with demands for changing negotiation tactics.

Google accepted this demand and the fine to finally end a case that, in its own words, “has been open for too long.”

“We have compromised because it is time to turn the page and, as our many agreements with publishers prove, we want to focus on sustainable approaches in order to connect Internet users with quality content and work constructively with French publishers.”

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The company called the fine “disproportionate” concerning the shortcomings the French watchdog singled out. 

It also said there was insufficient recognition of Google’s efforts to respond to various comments made by the regulators “in an environment where it is very complicated to define a course of action when one may not anticipate specific direction.”

Google’s fine is connected to a copyright dispute case in France set in motion due to complaints from some of the country’s leading news companies, including Agence France Presse, over online content.

The news comes shortly after Google announced plans alongside the French government on Feb. 19 to set up a new AI-dedicated hub in the country’s capital. 

The center is to be based in Paris, with nearly 300 researchers and engineers supporting the country’s AI ambitions.

France is also home to the new AI startup Mistral AI and its Mistral large large language model. Microsoft will make the Mistral LLM accessible on Azure AI Studio and Azure Machine Learning in partnership with the firm.

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