Feeds

Microsoft, German publishers hit Google with anti-trust suits

Hey Hillary, can you help us out in Europe as well?

The essential guide to IT transformation

Google has been hit with a barrage of anti-trust complaints in Germany, with two publisher groups, a mapping firm and a Microsoft-owned ad firm launching an enveloping movement on the ad broker and sometime search firm.

The quartet of actions follow hard on the heels of a Paris-backed pummeling for Google in France, and a little local difficulty in China.

Germany's Federation of Newspaper Publishers and Association of German Magazine Publishers have both taken umbrage at the search engine's serving up of slivers of news articles without payment.

Meanwhile, Euro-Cities, a German mapping firm, has apparently complained that Google's policy of letting just anyone embed Google maps in their sites is anti-competitive and is killing its own business.

Lastly, Ciao, a price comparison and review site owned by Microsoft, is trying to wiggle out of a contract that ties it into showing Google adsense ads. Microsoft claims the deal violates competition rules, a claim which presumably has nothing to do with Microsoft wanting to build its own advertising business.

At first glance, the Microsoft suit smacks of a contractual spat rather than a genuine competition issue. However, the publishers and the mapping firm's complaints are hinting at broader issues.

In the case of mapping, Google has so much cash lying around that it can give stuff away for free - meaning other firms are deprived of their business models. It's the same complaint firms are making in the US about the firm's bid to run the white space database.

And the German publishers' complaints are arguably more significant than the Belgian publishers' complaint that was settled back in 2007.

For a start, they include some heavyweight pan-European players like Axel Springer. Plus since 2007, publishers worldwide have become much more vocal about what they see as Google's free riding on their content, with the likes of Rupert Murdoch happy to call Google a parasite for its co-opting of his content.

It's fair to say that the German intellectual elite may be a little more in tune with the publisher's complaints than they may have been a few years ago.

Last week, German justice minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger said the firm was becoming a monopoly. Chancellor Angela Merkel has slated the firm's book scanning project.

Germany's position is broadly in line with France, whose culture minister has slammed Google books, while president Sarkozy has floated the idea of a special Google tax to offset the pain caused to French auteurs and artists by Google-aided piracy.

A Google spokesperson told Bloomberg it was "convinced" that it complied with all the relevant German and European laws.

It would be an incredibly cynical person who would suggest that Google's sudden qualms about working in China and subsequent seeking of Hillary Clinton's protection had anything to do with a suddenly more hostile regulatory environment in Europe. ®

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
6 Obvious Reasons Why Facebook Will Ban This Article (Thank God)
Clampdown on clickbait ... and El Reg is OK with this
Banking apps: Handy, can grab all your money... and RIDDLED with coding flaws
Yep, that one place you'd hoped you wouldn't find 'em
No, thank you. I will not code for the Caliphate
Some assignments, even the Bongster decline must
Barnes & Noble: Swallow a Samsung Nook tablet, please ... pretty please
Novelslab finally on sale with ($199 - $20) price tag
Video of US journalist 'beheading' pulled from social media
Yanked footage featured British-accented attacker and US journo James Foley
Primetime precrime? Minority Report TV series 'being developed'
I have to know. I have to find out what happened to my life
Broadband slow and expensive? Blame Telstra says CloudFlare
Won't peer, will gouge for Internet transit
Netflix swallows yet another bitter pill, inks peering deal with TWC
Net neutrality crusader once again pays up for priority access
prev story

Whitepapers

Best practices for enterprise data
Discussing how technology providers have innovated in order to solve new challenges, creating a new framework for enterprise data.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Advanced data protection for your virtualized environments
Find a natural fit for optimizing protection for the often resource-constrained data protection process found in virtual environments.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?