Corint Media enfor­ces right against Micro­soft in court

After near­ly two years of talks on licen­sing of press con­tent use by Micro­soft Bing search engi­ne, Corint Media board of direc­tors deci­des to take legal enfor­ce­ment action Incon­sis­tent beha­vi­or and announ­ce­ments by Microsoft’s cor­po­ra­te manage­ment do not cor­re­spond to talks

Press Release
Ber­lin, 2022-04-01

Yes­ter­day, the Corint Media Super­vi­so­ry Board of deci­ded to take legal action against Micro­soft to enfor­ce the press publis­hers’ right. Corint Media had recom­men­ded this step after more than two
years of talks without any accep­ta­ble result on an appro­pria­te remu­ne­ra­ti­on for the use of press con­tent by Micro­soft Bing and MSN.

Corint Media repre­sen­ta­ti­ves express sur­pri­se at Microsoft’s con­tra­dic­to­ry beha­viour. The pre­si­dent of Micro­soft Cor­po­ra­ti­on, Brad Smith, had repeated­ly spo­ken out publicly in favour of sup­por­ting efforts to balan­ce com­pe­ti­ti­on bet­ween press publis­hers — who are fun­da­men­tal to the func­tio­n­ing of a demo­cra­cy — and digi­tal mono­po­lists. He wel­co­med appro­pria­te legal regu­la­ti­on as a fun­da­men­tal step toward a fai­rer digi­tal eco­sys­tem for con­su­mers, busi­nes­ses and socie­ty. (Blog post by Brad Smith)

Mar­kus Run­de and Chris­toph Schwennicke, Mana­ging Direc­tors of Corint Media, com­men­ted: Micro­soft has only offe­red the press publis­hers repre­sen­ted by Corint Media an unre­a­son­ab­ly low amount for the licen­sing of press con­tent. This is appar­ent­ly based on the equal­ly dis­pro­por­tio­na­te and inap­pro­pria­te­ly low “offers” that Goog­le still thinks it can impo­se on the mar­ket in indi­vi­du­al con­tracts in an abu­si­ve man­ner. The clear dis­crepan­cy bet­ween the public state­ments of Microsoft’s manage­ment and actu­al prac­ti­ce is asto­nis­hing. Publicly, the com­pa­ny has repeated­ly decla­red its sup­port for press diver­si­ty and announ­ced that it would honour press pro­tec­tion rights by making pay­ments. Unfor­tu­n­a­te­ly, rea­li­ty falls com­ple­te­ly short of this announ­ce­ment.

The action against Micro­soft is part of a con­sis­tent and strin­gent legal enfor­ce­ment of the press publis­hers’ right by Corint Media against all explo­i­ters, both under copy­right and anti­trust law. The collec­ting socie­ty had alrea­dy filed a com­p­laint with the Federal Car­tel Office in 2020 against Google’s and Meta/Facebook’s mar­ket-abusing beha­viour. This com­p­laint has alrea­dy been taken up by the Bun­des­kar­tell­amt with regard to Goog­le by means of the so-cal­led basic decisi­on pur­suant to Sec­tion 19a GWB and the ope­ning of pro­cee­dings against Goog­le News Show­ca­se. In con­trast, the Office is cur­r­ent­ly still exami­ning the app­li­ca­bi­li­ty of Sec­tion 19a GWB to Meta/Facebook. Accord­in­gly, in Janu­a­ry and Febru­a­ry 2022, the lar­gest users, the mar­ket domi­na­tors Goog­le and Meta/Facebook, were for the last time reques­ted by Corint Media to pay appro­pria­te­ly for the use of press relea­ses under the app­li­ca­ble law.

In the con­text of the pro­cee­dings on Goog­le con­duc­ted under Sec­tion 19a GWB, the Bun­des­kar­tell­amt had sta­ted on 5 Janu­a­ry 2022 (Press Release) that “Alphabet/Google is an app­li­ca­ti­on case for the new super­vi­si­on of lar­ge digi­tal groups (Sec­tion 19a GWB)” and noted the “out­stan­ding cross-mar­ket signi­fi­can­ce”.

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