Anti­trust abu­se pro­cee­dings open against Goog­le

Pro­cee­dings by the Bun­des­kar­tell­amt streng­t­hen effec­ti­ve enfor­ce­ment of appro­pria­te remu­ne­ra­ti­on for press publis­hers’ ancil­la­ry rights.

Press Release
Ber­lin, 2021-06-08
Andre­as Mundt, Pre­si­dent of the Bun­des­kar­tell­amt:“Google’s strong posi­ti­on in access to cus­to­mers must not lead to a crow­ding out of com­pe­ting offers from publis­hers or other news pro­vi­ders.” (see BKar­tA press release of June 4, 2021, link at bot­tom of page).

A pro­be into the news plat­form Goog­le News Show­ca­se was laun­ched today by the Bun­des­kar­tell­amt after an announ­ce­ment that it has initia­ted pro­cee­dings against Goog­le for the abu­se of its domi­nant mar­ket posi­ti­on. The pro­ce­du­re reli­es not only on exis­ting bans for abu­si­ve prac­ti­ces but also on new laws that regu­la­te com­pa­nies with para­mount signi­fi­can­ce for com­pe­ti­ti­on across mar­kets (§ 19a GWB). The­se rules allow for more effec­ti­ve and fas­ter action against prac­ti­ces that restrict com­pe­ti­ti­on, espe­cial­ly by lar­ge digi­tal cor­po­ra­ti­ons.

The pro­cee­dings were laun­ched after a com­p­laint was filed with the Bun­des­kar­tell­amt by Corint Media in Octo­ber last year, which out­lined Google’s various vio­la­ti­ons of the ban on abu­si­ve prac­ti­ces:

  • The Goog­le News Show­ca­se ser­vice and its inte­gra­ti­on into other Goog­le ser­vices, in par­ti­cu­lar Google’s search engi­ne, is clear­ly desi­gned to focus users’ atten­ti­on on the new Goog­le-owned news ser­vice and its press con­tent. This exploits Google’s qua­si-mono­po­listic posi­ti­on in the search engi­ne mar­ket in an abu­si­ve man­ner to the detri­ment of press publis­hers not par­ti­ci­pa­ting in the ser­vice.
  • Equal­ly, the press publis­her con­tracts under­pin­ning the ser­vice are desi­gned in such a way that they make it impos­si­ble for publis­hers to enfor­ce appro­pria­te remu­ne­ra­ti­on for use of their con­tent, as inten­ded by recent legis­la­ti­on to pro­tect press publis­hers’ ancil­la­ry rights.

 
Corint Media wel­co­mes the fact that the Bun­des­kar­tell­amt has taken up this com­p­laint and is sub­jec­ting Google’s con­duct to an anti­trust inves­ti­ga­ti­on. In Corint Media’s view, Google’s beha­viour not only repres­ents a serious restric­tion of com­pe­ti­ti­on to the detri­ment of press publis­hers but also end­an­gers the eco­no­mic foun­da­ti­ons of the free press.

Chris­toph Schwennicke and Mar­kus Run­de, CEO of Corint Media: “Fol­lowing the jus­ti­fied rede­fi­ni­ti­on of the legal frame­work bet­ween con­tent pro­vi­ders and con­tent-using plat­forms – on both a Euro­pean and natio­nal sca­le – through the amend­ment of anti­trust law and the intro­duc­tion of ancil­la­ry rights for press publis­hers, the ope­ning of the­se pro­cee­dings is the next important step for the con­cre­te app­li­ca­ti­on of the law. Glo­bal tech com­pa­nies also have to ope­ra­te wit­hin the legal and regu­la­to­ry frame­works that we have estab­lis­hed in non-vio­lent demo­cra­ci­es. Vio­la­ti­ons of the­se legal frame­works requi­re sys­te­ma­tic pro­ces­sing and pro­se­cu­ti­on.”   

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