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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How much will privacy regulation disrupt the local search market in 2018?

Most marketing professionals don’t give much thought to the regulatory climate. In the US, unlike Europe, privacy laws are largely industry-specific and targeted toward healthcare and financial services. Thus, marketers have largely been able to rely on lawyers to provide privacy disclosures and then go on to business as usual.
Yet there are a number of indications that a tipping point may be near, giving way to new regulations that demand significant changes in business practice. These changes can have a disproportionate impact on small and medium-sized local businesses. And varying standards across state lines means that companies with local operations in different states may have to make multiple adjustments.
Below, I take a look at the current environment and indicators that major changes are due in 2018. Then I cover seven ways changing privacy laws will impact the local search market.
Deregulation on federal level driving changes on state level
With all the news on Net Neutrality last month, you

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Initial Interest Confusion rears its ugly head once more in trademark infringement case

Two years ago, Multi Time Machine brought a lawsuit against Amazon for trademark infringement, alleging that web pages on Amazon.com for “MTM special ops watches” keyword searches could be too confusing to consumers, since the MTM watches are not sold on the site. Now, a similar complaint was brought by Bodum versus Williams-Sonoma for French press coffeemakers. These cases illustrate significant risks for e-commerce sites.
Multi Time Machine’s complaint was based on a few different search results pages at Amazon that involved keywords associated with Multi Time Machine’s trademarks. When one searched for “mtm special ops watches” (and similar keyword searches that could be related to their marks), Amazon displayed what are essentially related search results. As mentioned before, MTM watches are not sold on Amazon — but the site associated those keyword searches with other watches that might be considered similar.

Initial Interest Confusion
Multi Time Machine claimed that this caused “Initial Interest Confusion” (IIC), which is a controversial theory of trademark law.

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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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Bing to censor Bing.com in the EU for Right To Be Forgotten searches

Bing announced today it has updated its policy around Right To Be Forgotten requests in the EU.
According to the announcement, Right To Be Forgotten material in the EU will be censored even on Bing.com, a change from its past policy around RTBF requests.
Previously, Bing removed material from its country-specific versions such as Bing.fr for France, or Bing.co.uk for the United Kingdom. However, people in those countries who went to Bing.com would still find Right to be Forgotten material.
With the policy updates, that is no longer the case.
Going forward, in addition to this practice, Bing will also use location-based signals (e.g., IP addresses) to delist the relevant URL on all versions of Bing, including Bing.com, for any user accessing Bing from the European country where the request originated. For example, if someone in France successfully requests delisting of a URL on Bing, in addition to delisting that URL from all applicable European versions of Bing, Bing will

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Authors Guild Appeals Lower Court Decision Backing Google’s Book Digitizing Project

Google’s ambitious effort to digitize millions of paper books — and make them searchable — may be entering a new legal phase.
According to a story in this weekend’s Jurist, The Authors Guild and three of its author-members filed a petition on New Year’s Eve asking the US Supreme Court to review a lower court’s decision that backed Google.
The petition says:
Google made full digital copies of millions of books it obtained from libraries’ shelves without the authors’ consent. As payment, Google gave the libraries digital copies of the books. Google makes the books’ full text searchable on its revenue-generating search engine, and displays verbatim excerpts in response to users’ searches.
The plaintiffs have contended that millions of the 20 million books already scanned are still protected by copyright and that Google digitized them “without permission of rights holders.”
Users can employ Google’s search engine to look for specific words or terms in the books, and they’ll see snippets of text

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Google Loses Appeal By AdWords Advertisers In Suit Over Ads On Error Pages

AdWords advertisers have won their appeal of a ruling that denied them class-action status in their suit against Google over ads appearing on error pages and parked domains.
The Ninth District Court of Appeals overturned the 2012 ruling by a US District Court of Northern California judge in appeal case Pulaski & Middleman LLC v. Google Inc. 12-16752. The higher court concluded that the lower court erred in its decision to deny class-action status. The ruling remands the case to a trial judge.
In the district court case, In re Google AdWords Litigation, 5:08-cv-03369, advertisers argued that Google misled them about the types of sites and pages on which their AdWords ads could appear between 2004 and 2008. In March 2008, Google updated the AdWords interface to allow advertisers to opt out of having their ads show on error pages and parked domains when advertising on the Google Display Network.
The advertisers are seeking restitution for the difference between what they paid per click versus

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9 Outcomes Of Google’s Pirate Algorithm: Should You Be Concerned?

The SEO world erupts into hysteria whenever Google rolls out another algorithm update. With most algo updates, we know what we should do: better content, fewer keywords, higher quality links, unoptimized anchor text, etc.
However, when it came to Google’s Pirate Update back in 2012, which was designed to algorithmically penalize pirate sites, we weren’t quite sure what to do. Was this just a slap on the wrist for pirate sites, or are there lessons that all SEOs and marketers could learn?
Now, several months out from Pirate’s most recent update, I want to take a look at the impact and make sure we understand what’s going on.
Piracy’s History As A Search Issue
First off, for all you algo alliteration fans, “Pirate” starts with a “P.” Unlike penguins, pandas, and pigeons, however, the term “piracy” is more intentional and less abstract.
Piracy is a major problem. Although companies like Warner, Sony, and Disney aggressively fight piracy, they’ve had little success in defeating the biggest culprit

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