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SacrAI Bleu! France fines Google for stealing content to train robobrains

Google is in hot water over allegations it illegally scraped content from publishers without getting permission

Google and its parent company are facing a €250m fine for violating European laws on training AI models.

France's Autorité de la concurrence has issued the fine after it determined the search giant ran afoul of its laws by failing to properly notify the people who created the actual content.

The fine stems from the way Google ran Bard, the AI chatbot it developed as an Alphabet alternative to the ChatGPT service.

French authorities believe that Google was less than compliant with the law when it scooped content from local media sources, harvesting content without permission and using it to train its AI model.

"With regard to 'Bard', the artificial intelligence service launched by Google in July 2023, the Autorité found in particular that Bard had used content from press agencies and publishers to train its foundation model, without notifying either them or the Autorité," the French watchdog said.

"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 the use of their content by Bard without affecting the display of content protected by related rights on other Google services, thus obstructing the ability of press agencies and publishers to negotiate remuneration."

In roast beef words, Google trained its AI on articles from French news sites without getting permission to access the content, thus making the AI an illegal entity. The French authority says that it had notified Alphabet multiple times but the company continued to violate the terms of the agreement.

Google has yet to respond to a request for comment from The Stack.

This is not the first time Google's parent brand has found itself running afoul of French regulators. The Autorité noted that it has previously levied fines against Alphabet for playing fast and loose with the content it uses to train its AI services, encountering fines on multiple occasions and being placed under sanctions.

The French authorities noted that Alphabet has agreed to a series of measures to help ensure any content it gathers from news agencies is taken with permission.

"This is the fourth decision issued by the Autorité in this case in four years. These decisions come against the backdrop of the adoption of the French law of 24 July 2019 on related rights," the watchdog said.