Federal Car­tel Office restricts Goog­le News Show­ca­se

Bun­des­kar­tell­amt has signi­fi­cant com­pe­ti­ti­on con­cerns about Goog­le News Show­ca­se. The com­bi­na­ti­on of Show­ca­se and Goog­le Search should no lon­ger be pos­si­ble.

Press Release
Ber­lin, 2022-01-12

After the Bun­des­kar­tell­amt had deter­mi­ned in a natio­nal­ly and inter­na­tio­nal­ly high­ly regar­ded decisi­on of 30 Decem­ber 2021 (see PR of 05 Janu­a­ry 2022) that Goog­le is a com­pa­ny of over­ri­ding impor­t­ance for the ent­i­re mar­ket and can now be regu­la­ted in advan­ce, the next step in the mat­ter fol­lows: Six mon­ths after the Bun­des­kar­tell­amt had taken up a com­p­laint by Corint Media against Goog­le regar­ding the Goog­le News Show­ca­se offer, the Bun­des­kar­tell­amt makes public the con­di­ti­ons to which Goog­le had to agree at least with regard to the Goog­le News Show­ca­se offer.

With the­se mea­su­res, Goog­le is attemp­t­ing to reme­dy the fun­da­men­tal anti­trust con­cerns of the BKar­tA regar­ding Goog­le News Show­ca­se. Among other things, the BKar­tA fea­red a self-pre­fe­rence of Goog­le or an obst­ruc­tion of com­pe­ting offers of third par­ties. Whe­ther the adjus­t­ments are suf­fi­ci­ent is now to be dis­cus­sed with publis­hers and Corint Media.

It is alrea­dy clear that Goog­le will not be allo­wed to con­ti­nue the so-cal­led Goog­le News Show­ca­se in the way it was ori­gi­nal­ly desi­gned and plan­ned. Thus, Goog­le can appar­ent­ly only avert the accu­sa­ti­on of self-pre­fe­rence by refrai­ning from any con­nec­tion of the Show­ca­se with Goog­le Search. The Pre­si­dent of the Bun­des­kar­tell­amt, Andre­as Mundt, exp­lains that the inte­gra­ti­on of Show­ca­se con­tent into the gene­ral search in the gene­ral search is no lon­ger plan­ned and that the Show­ca­se should not hin­der the enfor­ce­ment of press pro­tec­tion law. This means, howe­ver, that the pro­duct is likely to retain its cur­rent low impor­t­ance for both Goog­le and the par­ti­ci­pa­ting publis­hers. The Bun­des­kar­tell­amt is also deman­ding that Goog­le open up the Show­ca­se to other publis­hers, if desi­red.

Howe­ver, the Bun­des­kar­tell­amt is not satis­fied with an adjus­t­ment of Goog­le News Show­ca­se in the case. The discri­mi­na­ti­on of press publis­hers in the licen­sing of press ancil­la­ry copy­right is also the sub­ject of fur­ther detail­ed inves­ti­ga­ti­ons and pro­cee­dings. This app­lies not only to the impe­di­ment that Goog­le News Show­ca­se poses to the press per­for­mance pro­tec­tion right, but also to the ques­ti­on of whe­ther the actu­al remu­ne­ra­ti­on for use is in line with com­pe­ti­ti­on law, as Andre­as Mundt exp­lains: “The con­di­ti­ons for par­ti­ci­pa­ti­on in Goog­le News Show­ca­se should not hin­der the asser­ti­on of the gene­ral ancil­la­ry copy­right of press publis­hers” and “Par­al­lel to the Goog­le News Show­ca­se pro­cee­dings, we are kee­ping a clo­se eye on the nego­tia­ti­ons on the remu­ne­ra­ti­on of the ancil­la­ry copy­right.”

Chris­toph Schwennicke and Mar­kus Run­de, Mana­ging Direc­tors of Corint Media:  “We wel­co­me the decisi­on by the Decisi­ons Divi­si­on to address the abu­si­ve­ness of the Goog­le News Show­ca­se and to impo­se mea­su­res on Goog­le. From now on, a con­nec­tion of the Show­ca­se dis­play with Goog­le Search is pro­hi­bi­ted. Google’s core busi­ness, howe­ver, is pre­cise­ly that search. Goog­le News Show­ca­se is the­re­fo­re neit­her attrac­ti­ve for Goog­le nor for publis­hers. The fea­red sub­sti­tu­ti­on com­pe­ti­ti­on by Goog­le, which would have made publis­hers’ offe­rings per­ma­nent­ly dis­pensable, is now no lon­ger pos­si­ble. Even more important for us, howe­ver, is the fact that the Office is exten­ding the pro­cee­dings in gene­ral to inclu­de the anti-com­pe­ti­ti­ve, mar­ket-abusing discri­mi­na­ti­on of publis­hers in the licen­sing of ancil­la­ry copy­right. The Office is thus indi­ca­ting that it does not under­stand Google’s arti­fi­cial divi­si­on into pos­si­ble pro­ducts.”

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