Google And EU Reach Antitrust Settlement

Posted on 2/6/2014 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

Google and European Union antitrust regulators have reached a settlement in the competition investigation that has been going on since 2010. Under the agreement, subject to a final approval by the EU, Google will pay no fine and there will be no finding of wrongdoing.

The investigation has centered on whether Google abused its dominance in Internet search and advertising to favor its own products and services in search results. The agreement would require Google to give at least three major rivals more prominence in its promoted results.

During three years of negotiations Google proposed two solutions that were rejected, but a third proposal offered in October 2013 seems to have satisfied EU regulators.

Recently, the photography community has become particularly concerned about how Google Images uses the original works of image providers to divert traffic from the providers’ sites to its own services.
On November 8, 2013, on behalf of thousands of photographers and picture agencies CEPIC, the Center of the Picture Industry, submitted a formal antitrust complaint against Google to the European Commission.

The complaint pointed out that in Google Image searches, “Google diverts users’ attention from the legitimate rightholders to its own services, benefiting thereby from the rightholders’ investments. The image providers in turn are deprived of the credit and fruits of their work.”

While under the agreement Google will be required to give rivals more prominence in its promoted results it is unclear how this could practically be accomplished in the case of a Google Image search.
CEPIC, and many other interested parties, had urged the European Commission to “market-test” Google’s latest proposals before finally approving the plan. However, it doesn’t look like that will happen. The 18 groups that filed complaints in the case will be consulted about the final terms when the commission informs them of its intention to reject the case.

Both Google and Joaquín Almunia, the EU competition chief, see this as the closing chapter in protracted settlement talks that were on the brink of collapse at various points, with threats of formal charges unless Google’s offer was improved. Mr Almunia says that Google will have to adhere to the deal for five years, and an independent monitor will be appointed to check that no changes undermine the agreement.

Copyright © 2014 Jim Pickerell. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-461-7627, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz

Jim Pickerell is founder of, an online newsletter that publishes daily. He is also available for personal telephone consultations on pricing and other matters related to stock photography. He occasionally acts as an expert witness on matters related to stock photography. For his current curriculum vitae go to:  


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