Google, Getty Images enter a multi-year global licensing partnership

Late last week, Google parent Alphabet and Getty Images announced a sweeping partnership that effectively ends a long-standing copyright and antitrust dispute between Getty and Google, which was filed in early 2016.
The newly announced deal was characterized by Getty as “a multi-year global licensing partnership, enabling Google to use Getty Images’ content within its various products and services.” As part of that deal, Google will be using Getty images across many of its “products and services.”
Another change, according to The Verge, is that Google will make copyright attribution and disclaimers more prominent in image search results and will remove view links to stand-alone URLs for Getty photographs.
Getty’s complaint against Google alleged traffic and revenue losses to its customers’ sites because users could see (and potentially copy) images directly from Google Image Search results. Getty claimed that the ability to save and download images promoted copyright infringement and “piracy.” Getty is not the only party to have made

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India’s competition regulator fines Google $21.1 million for ‘search bias’ in travel results

India’s Competition Commission (CCI) today fined Google $1.36 billion rupees (roughly $21.1 million) for “abuse of its dominant position” in search. The specific finding made by CCI (in a 4 to 2 decision) surrounded Google’s treatment of flight search results.
CCI said that Google “allocated disproportionate real estate” to the box of sponsored flight results at the top of the page, which the Committee said disadvantaged “verticals trying to gain market access”:

CCI found prominent display of Commercial Flight Unit by Google on Search Engine Result Page (SERP) with link to Google’s specialised search options/ services (Flight) in contravention of the provisions of Section 4(2)(a)(i) of the Act. CCI noted in its order that Google through its search design has not only placed its commercial flight unit at a prominent position on SERP, it has also allocated disproportionate real estate thereof to such units to the disadvantage of verticals trying to gain market access. Besides, it was also found

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Alphabet to create separate business unit in Europe to run Google Shopping

According to Bloomberg, Google is going to create a separate business unit to manage shopping content in search results to comply with the European Commission’s recent antitrust decision. This unit will reportedly be required to compete in the auction against shopping competitors.
The unit will apparently use its own budget and revenues to bid in the auction and will only exist in the EU. Shopping search will continue as is in other markets, including the US.
Reuters had earlier reported that Google was going to “display rival shopping comparison sites via an auction.” That approach appeared to be similar to the earlier “rival links” proposal that failed to settle the antitrust dispute before the formal complaint (statement of objections) was filed in 2015.
Google was fined roughly $2.7 billion (€2.4 billion) for abuse of market position in shopping search. The fine was the largest antitrust penalty in EU history. The previous record was $1.3 billion against Intel. As part of the

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Yelp says Google violated ‘do not crawl’ provision of 2013 FTC settlement agreement

Mark Van Scyoc / Shutterstock.com
Yelp has sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) asserting that Google is improperly using Yelp images in local search results in violation of its 2013 antitrust settlement with the regulatory agency. Yelp also circulated the letter to several members of Congress and state attorneys general, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.
The 2013 settlement concluded nearly two years of investigations and political maneuvering. As part of the agreement, Google said it would:
[M]ake available a web-based notice form that provides website owners with the option to opt out from display on Google’s Covered Webpages of content from their website that has been crawled by Google. When a website owner exercises this option, Google will cease displaying crawled content from the domain name designated by the website owner on Covered Webpages on the google.com domain in the United States. Website owners will be able to exercise the opt-out described above by completing a web-based

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Report: Google to appeal $2.7 billion EU fine

According to The Telegraph, Google is planning to file an appeal against the roughly $2.7 billion (€2.4 billion) antitrust fine imposed by the European Commission in June for abuse of market position in shopping search. The fine was the largest in EU history; the previous record fine was $1.3 billion against Intel.
Last week, Intel won a rare partial victory against EU antitrust regulators when the European Court of Justice instructed a lower court to re-examine its decision and take a closer look at the underlying facts and market impact of Intel’s behavior.
It’s not clear whether last week’s decision impacted Google’s thinking on whether or not to appeal (Google’s decision was likely made before last week). Though it will likely be in process for several years, an appeal makes sense because the company faces potential similar fines and demands for change around other types of “vertical search” results such as maps/local, travel and other categories.
Google is required to submit proposals

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EU slaps Google with $2.7 billion antitrust fine

Expected for months, the antitrust penalty was supposed to be closer to $1 billion. However, today the EU leveled a much larger 2.4 billion euro ($2.7 billion) fine against Google for alleged abuse of its market power in vertical (shopping) search.
Though the fine is not a surprise, the amount is. In the climax of a decade-long antitrust saga that at one time was close to settlement, Google is being punished for allegedly “favoring its own content” in shopping search results.
Google has vehemently denied that its practices harm competition or consumers. Instead, Google has argued that its results are beneficial and match evolving consumer demands:
Google has always worked to improve its services, creating new ways to provide better answers and show more useful ads. We’ve taken seriously the concerns in the European Commission’s Statement of Objections (SO) that our innovations are anti-competitive. The response we filed today shows why we believe those allegations are incorrect, and why we believe that Google increases choice for European

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Florida court: Google permitted to delist sites regarded as spam under First Amendment

Under US law it’s well established that the First Amendment of the US Constitution gives search engines near-total discretion over the content on their pages and ranking algorithms. However, a court in Florida previously allowed a case against Google to survive a motion to dismiss (plaintiff’s links were removed as “pure spam” in violation of Google’s quality guidelines).
The case, e-ventures Worldwide, LLC vs. Google, survived Google’s procedural motion. Among other factual claims, the complaint against Google alleged a kind of conspiracy that the search engine sought to use delisting as a tool to force plaintiff to buy AdWords.
Google was sued under various federal and Florida state statutes, basically for unfair competition. The failure to grant Google’s motion to dismiss was legally in error. However, the Florida court has now granted Google’s motion for summary judgment, effectively ending the litigation in Google’s favor.
Eric Goldman quoted the court’s ruling and rationale, which reaffirmed and relied upon earlier law asserting

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Google creates its own antitrust woes with poor communication over search listings

Did Google deliberately try to reduce the rankings of ProtonMail, a tiny rival to Google’s own Gmail service? Almost certainly not. Even Proton doesn’t seem to believe that. But the case highlights how Google’s problems with publisher, business and webmaster communication can hurt it as it faces challenges on antitrust grounds.
What happened with Proton
Proton Technologies is a Swiss-based company offering a secure, encrypted email service called ProtonMail. It might be an attractive alternative for those who worry a service like Gmail isn’t private enough, either from government requests or Google’s own ad uses.
Last November, Proton noticed that they were seeing a drop in daily signups for ProtonMail. Wondering why, the company started looking into its rankings on Google and determined there was a problem. In particular, ProtonMail wasn’t showing in the top results for “secure email” or “encrypted email,” as it assumed was the case in the past.
Proton then suffered a problem that’s not unique for businesses and publishers. It had

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War And Peace: Bloomberg’s Massive History Of Google’s EU Antitrust Case

If you want a history of Google’s search battles with European antitrust regulators, a new article from Brad Stone (and colleagues) at Bloomberg will more than satisfy you. While there’s very little truly new information, the well-researched (and lengthy) piece is nearly comprehensive and captures all the intrigue as well as the evolving nature of the dispute.
The article is provocatively titled, “Google’s $6 Billion Miscalculation on the EU.” The $6 billion refers to the potential penalties and fines that Google may face in Europe. The “miscalculation” reflects some of Google’s missteps there, chief among which may have been its misplaced reliance on former European Commission competition czar Joaquín Almunia.
Almunia has now been replaced by Danish politician Margrethe Vestager, who is taking a tougher line against the company and is almost certain to seek financial penalties. For example, the article says she is now socializing the idea of fines with Google’s competitors:
Vestager is showing no sign of compromise. While the document containing her charges is secret,

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