France fines Google €250 million over data used to train Gemini

Google might face a fine ranging from 6 to 18 million roubles.
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The competition authority in France, Autorité de la Concurrence, has announced a €250 million fine against Google for failing to comply with copyright rules.

While Google was said to have failed to fulfil some obligations in the past, the company was accused of using content from press agencies and publishers to train its foundation model, Bard, now called Gemini, without notifying them or the competition authority.

According to a statement released on Wednesday by the French Authority, this is the fourth decision issued by the Autorité in this case in four years.

The decisions, the authority said, come against the backdrop of the adoption of the French law of 24 July 2019 on related rights (transposing the EU directive on copyright and related rights of 17 April 2019), aiming to create the necessary conditions for balanced negotiations between press agencies, publishers and digital platforms.

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Copyright infringement
Speaking specifically to the data used to train Google’s AI tool, Bard, the Autorité de la Concurrence said:

“Regarding Bard, Google’s artificial intelligence service launched in July 2023, Autorité found, in particular, that Bard had used content from press agencies and publishers to train its foundation model without notifying either of them or Autorité.

“Google subsequently linked the use by its artificial intelligence service of the content concerned to the display of protected content by failing to propose a technical solution for press agencies and publishers to opt out of Bard’s use of their content without affecting the display of content protected by related rights on other Google services, thus obstructing their ability to negotiate remuneration.

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“Given these breaches, Autorité has imposed a fine of €250 million on Alphabet Inc., Google LLC, Google Ireland Ltd and Google France.

“As Google undertook not to contest the facts, it was able to benefit from the settlement procedure. Google has also proposed a series of corrective measures to address certain breaches identified by the Autorité de la concurrence.”
Media and AI training

The fine against Google has again brought to the fore the ongoing arguments over using media content to train AI. The New York Times recently filed a lawsuit against Google’s rival, OpenAi, accusing it of using its content to train its LLM, ChatGPT.

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Microsoft, OpenAI’s partner, was also included in the lawsuit. The lawsuit, filed in Federal District Court in Manhattan, contends that millions of articles published by The Times were used to train automated chatbots that now compete with the news outlet as a source of reliable information.

The suit does not include an exact monetary demand. But it says the defendants should be held responsible for “billions of dollars in statutory and actual damages” related to the “unlawful copying and use of The Times’s uniquely valuable works.”

It also calls for the companies to destroy chatbot models and training data that use copyrighted material from The Times.

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