Category Archives: International

Europe to accuse Google of illegally abusing its dominance

Financial Times
By Alex Barker, Christian Oliver and Anne-Sylvaine
April 14, 2015, 2:01pm ET

Google will on Wednesday be accused by Brussels of illegally abusing its dominance of search in Europe, a step that ultimately could force it to fundamentally change its business model and pay hefty fines.

Margrethe Vestager, the EU’s competition commissioner, is to say that the US group will soon be served with a formal charge sheet alleging that it breached antitrust rules by diverting traffic from rivals in order to favour its in-house services, according to two people familiar with the case.

Serving Google with a so-called statement of objections will be the opening salvo in one of the defining antitrust cases of the internet era. It could prove as epic as the decade-long battle with Microsoft that ultimately cost the company more than €2bn in fines.

The commission’s move comes after a torrid a five-year investigation that Google came close to settling without charges last year. The draft deal collapsed after fierce objections were raised by ministers in France and Germany, and by some of the continent’s most powerful telecoms and media groups.

The EU’s antitrust case comes against the backdrop of a growing European backlash against Silicon Valley and the economic disruption of the digital age. Once lauded for their innovative spirit, big US tech groups have come under mounting criticism in Europe over their market dominance and the way they handle personal data, especially in the wake of the US internet surveillance scandal.

A decision on charges is to be taken by the college of 28 EU commissioners on Wednesday. Some commissioners are concerned that Ms Vestager has, according to one source, restructured and narrowed the case she inherited from her predecessor Joaquín Almunia. As well as search issues, the investigation has looked at allegations that Google illegally scrapes content from rivals, locks in some publishers into using Google search ads, and makes it hard for advertisers to move campaigns to rival search engines.

Although Google has faced antitrust questions on three continents for several years, the EU move is the first time the company has been accused of formal wrongdoing. It will be given 10 weeks to respond to the allegations and will have the opportunity to call a hearing to make its defence.

Ultimately, the commission has the power to levy fines of up to 10 per cent of Google’s global turnover and can impose far-reaching curbs on its business practices. Almost 20 complainants against Google want the search engine to abide by strict rules that ensure its formula treats its own services — providing results for travel, shopping, and maps — no differently from rivals. Spokespeople for Google and the commission declined to comment.

If the charges are proven, it could take at least a year and probably significantly longer for the commission to make a final decision. Google would probably challenge any ruling that goes against it through the European courts, opening a legal war that could run for years.

The commission’s long attempt to settle the case with Google under Ms Vestager’s predecessor Mr Almunia made it one of the most fraught and politically charged antitrust cases to be dealt with by Brussels.

Google supporters feel the commission’s volte-face on a settlement reflected politics rather than an independent assessment. No EU antitrust case has ever been extended to three settlement offers, or been revived after complainants were formally warned that their case is about to be rejected.

On top of the pressure from Brussels, this week Google is also under scrutiny in France where lawmakers are considering an initiative that would force it to hand over its secret formula for ranking websites.

Revealing our algorithms — our intellectual property — would lead to the gaming of our results, which would be a bad experience for users
– Google

The French senate is likely to adopt a bill this week which would allow the country’s national telecoms regulator to monitor search engines’ algorithms, with sweeping powers to ensure its results are fair and non-discriminatory. The French initiative will become law only if it is adopted by the senate and the lower house of parliament and will also require government backing.

Critics complain that Google’s algorithm can be skewed to hurt rivals and want it published to ensure accountability. Google argues such transparency would make its search engine a target of spam and hand rivals its business secrets for free.

A spokesperson for Google in France said: “We’re transparent about what ranks well on Google, including when we make changes, but by definition, not everyone can come top. Revealing our algorithms — our intellectual property — would lead to the gaming of our results, which would be a bad experience for users.”

The amendment, proposed by centre-right lawmakers and attached to a broader economic reform bill assembled by economy minister Emmanuel Macron, has yet to secure the government backing needed to survive the legislative process and pass in the National Assembly.

But Catherine Morin-Desailly, chair of the Senate’s culture, education and communication committee, told the Financial Times that discussions with the government were encouraging.

“The government is well aware of the issues,” Ms Morin-Desailly said. “It’s a question of ensuring fairness. Too many businesses view search engines as bottlenecks. The net is tightening around [Google].”

If approved, the proposal would give Arcep, France’s telecoms regulator, oversight of any search engine that has sufficient power to “structure the functioning of the digital economy”. Google would be required to provide links to at least three rival search engines on its homepage, and disclose to users the “general principles of ranking”.

Additional reporting by Richard Waters in San Francisco

BAPLA Rights Group survey on Web, Social Media and Apps

 

The BAPLA Rights Group asks for your help in completing their latest survey on rights and standards for website and social use, and app pricing, as they would like to get a US perspective. Please take a few minutes to complete the survey, accessed by the link below. All answers will be treated in complete confidence. Survey responses will be used to compile a report on the latest trends in website, social media and app licensing, which will also form one of the points for discussion at  the BAPLA Focus on Copyright event in London on May 14  and which they will share with DMLA.

Please note that it is not essential to answer all questions in the survey – if you are unable to answer a specific question, please skip that question and move on to the next one. Deadline for responses to the survey is Friday 10th April.

Tim Harris, Chair BAPLA Rights Group

You can take the survey here.  Please take this version only if you are a North American business.

 

 

age fotostock Updates Their Website

 

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age fotostock, a stock photography agency based in Spain with offices in Barcelona, Madrid, New York, and Paris, launched a new look on their website this week.

The site, http://www.agefotostock.com, has been designed by in-house age fotostock web designers and programmers in direct response to customer demand for an attractive website where themes, categories, collections and offers are easy to find. Along with the new look, age fotostock is introducing two new curated collections, ‘SnapMobileFoto’ and ‘Unconventional’.

Moving alongside developments in technology, the business model of the stock photography industry and its ecosystem has changed constantly and dramatically in the past years, both in web design trends as well as the clients’ approach to licensing images. age fotostock, a company in the business for more than 40 years, still individually owned, and always “on the crest of the wave,” sticks to the principle of protecting photography and photographers while adapting to market demands. The company has undertaken the development of a new website that recognizes and incorporates the needs of change with a contemporary and innovative design. The enhanced navigation and visual offer are just some of many improvements that have been made to the age fotostock and THP platforms following the initial website launch in 1997.

Alfonso Gutiérrez, CEO of age fotostock, comments, “We have researched the market and utilized the skills of our in house IT developers and designers to create a new look that is unique, smart and functional, presenting our great variety of content in a manner convenient for clients. We are pleased to offer two new creative and contemporary collections that embrace the growing changes in both visual culture and technology, Unconventional and SnapMobilePhoto. Both collections are increasingly rapidly with a wealth of fresh imagery.”

Julieanne Eason, Content Manager, says, “The emphasis on showing our photographers” work is an essential part of the age fotostock philosophy. The work of photographers is the basis of the new visual culture that the internet has introduced in our global society. New media has profoundly altered everything, from licensing models to rewarding creativity, and offers fresh possibilities that photographers need to assimilate. We are facilitating changes in order to present a world of possibilities in which visual creators continue to benefit.”

Charlie Hebdo shooting: a barbaric act against media freedom

 from the European Federation of Journalists

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“The ‘massacre’ which took place today at the premises of the French magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris is a barbaric act of violence against journalists and media freedom,” says the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ).

According to the latest media reports, twelve people were killed in the shooting. Among them, nine are journalists and two are policemen, according to media reports. Media reported that at least two armed, hooded gunmen have taken part in the shooting at the office of Charlie Hebdo at 11.30am today.

The EFJ has expressed its deepest condolences to the families and friends of the victims. The EFJ President, Mogens Blicher Bjerregaard, will travel to Paris later today or tomorrow to honour the victims and get in touch with the journalists’ unions in France for support actions to the families of the victims.

The EFJ has condemned this barbaric act of violence against journalists and media freedom. It has called on the French authorities to make every effort to punish this horrific crime.

“This is not only an attack on journalists but also an attack on the freedom of the media. Journalists today are facing greater dangers and threats,” says Blicher Bjerregaard.

In 2014, 118 journalists and media workers died for doing their jobs. In Europe, 9 journalists were killed and they were taken place mostly in Ukraine.

In view of this horrific attack, the EFJ reiterates its call on national governments, the European Union and intergovernmental organisations (including the Council of Europe and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe – OSCE) to intensify their efforts in ensuring the protection of journalists in Europe.

EU May Revise Google’s Antitrust Settlement

European Union antitrust regulators are preparing to step up their investigations into Google Inc. on several fronts, including revisiting a proposed settlement over its search-engine practices that has met with unprecedented opposition.

The European Commission is likely to revise some terms of the proposed settlement with Google that were announced in February.  See Wall Street Article here.

EU May Revise Google’s Antitrust Settlement, Says Source

By Tom Fairless  from the Wall Street Journal

European Union antitrust regulators are preparing to step up their investigations into Google Inc. on several fronts, including revisiting a proposed settlement over its search-engine practices that has met with unprecedented opposition.

The European Commission is likely to revise some terms of the proposed settlement with Google that were announced in February.

BRUSSELS—European Union antitrust regulators are preparing to step up their investigations into Google Inc. on several fronts, including revisiting a proposed settlement over its search-engine practices that has met with unprecedented opposition.

The European Commission is likely to revise some terms of the proposed settlement announced in February, aimed at dealing with concerns that the company abuses its dominance of online searches in Europe, a person with knowledge of the situation said Tuesday.

A firm decision on whether to revise Google’s proposed commitments will be made in September, the person said.

The admission marks something of an about-face for EU competition chief Joaquín Almunia, who had previously insisted that the commitments agreed by Google were sufficient to meet the EU’s competition concerns.

A final decision on the case may now be taken by Mr. Almunia’s successor after he leaves office in November, the person said.

The European Commission is also deepening a second line of investigation into Google’s business practices relating to its Android operating system for mobile phones. The Commission recently sent out fresh requests for information from handset makers and other interested parties on their dealings with Android, a year after sending out a first batch of questionnaires, the person said.

The Android inquiry isn’t yet a formal investigation, but it is likely to become one, the person said.

The decision to deepen the investigation follows intense opposition to the Commission’s proposed search settlement with Google, both from top European politicians and the companies it was supposed to help. Some of the companies that lodged complaints against Google have said they would prefer no deal to the one negotiated by Mr. Almunia.

The Commission has decided that some concerns raised by complainants in response to letters explaining the EU’s settlement decision may be valid, the person said.

The concerns relate to the possible preferential treatment of Google’s services beyond their visibility on the search page, and the design of an auction mechanism aimed at allowing rivals to bid for better placement on the page. Some new complaints may also be integrated into the case that weren’t previously linked to it, the person said.

A spokesman for Google referred to previous comments that the company has made “significant changes to address the Commission’s concerns, greatly increasing the visibility of rival services and addressing other specific issues.”

 

CEPIC Congress 2014 in Berlin

 

Berlin-Photo6

by Cathy Aron, PACA Executive Director

The CEPIC Congress was held this year in Berlin, a city of many contrasts. From the beauty of the forests, rivers and parks that take up much of the land to the remnants and reminders of the Berlin Wall and the Holocaust Memorial, you are constantly reminiscent of the conflicted history of this capital. There is an amazing amount of construction going on everywhere you turn, both reconstructing old buildings to their original grace and new architecture reflecting the new 21st century style.

This was, perhaps, the perfect setting for the 2014 CEPIC Congress as we reflected on old and new ways of doing business and learned of the new technologies that will drive our industry in the future. The move to a downtown hotel location seemed a good one and the Congress moved smoothly through the 3-day event. The entire conference was held on one floor of the hotel, which made it easy for attendees to navigate.

Those of us invited to the BAPLA/Virtual Images Group’s Opening Reception at the British Embassy were impressed by the modern structure of the building and all the security that surrounds it. It was a delightful evening of food and drink and catching up with old friends!

The Congress itself was extremely well run and included more sessions than before. This year the sessions were well attended and a few were standing room only. Favorites were the EU Google Panel, The Bing Search Panel and From the RDI to the CIF.

The annual party included a band in an outdoor courtyard at the Kalkscheune. A lovely warm night with plenty of lively conversations, food and more drinks!! Everyone seemed to have a great time.

A picture-perfect Garden Party, hosted by AKG Images at their Berlin Office, was a nostalgic way to end the week Not only was Justus Göpel (Former owner of AKG, now deceased) instrumental in the establishment of CEPIC, but the AKG building, a beautiful 19th century home, housed the first CEPIC office. It was wonderful to be hosted by Katrin Göpel, Jürgen Raibel and the rest of the staff.

Thanks to Sylvie Fodor and Carlos Vicente for another stimulating meeting.

No word was given on next year’s location, but we will be keep you posted. You can read the CEPIC press release here.

Delegates from all over the world praise the organization of the Congress as the best ever

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Every year CEPIC brings together picture agencies from all over the world and becomes, for a few days, the Centre of the Picture Industry. After Barcelona in 2013, this year’s Congress was held in the heart of Berlin, only a few blocks away from the Brandenburger Tor. 

For an industry that is rapidly assimilating the challenges that photography is experiencing these days, with over 500 participants from 280 agencies from 35 countries the congress was a huge success. The central location, the venue, the seminars, the technology, the networking area, overall logistics, the seminars and even the music at the Annual Party; all was beautifully organized by CEPIC´s new Congress Manager Carlos Vicente and his team who received much praise for an insuperable work. Despite the amount of participants everything worked without flaw, allowing delegates to concentrate in their networking endeavor of making new business contacts while also attending very informative seminars and conferences.  Conferences ranging from topics both highly technical to intensely informative, such as Client Panel, Video Metadata within the IPTC, Social Media, Google Image Search latest news, the Cultural Heritage debate, from the RDI to the CIF and detailed politics on coming EU legislation all gathered extraordinary attendance, much larger indeed than many previous Congresses.

Full video coverage for the CEPIC Congress with interviews and seminars is available in the CEPIC YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/CEPICCONGRESS

The annual industry party organized for all delegates took place at the Kalkscheune, a wonderful location just a few streets away from the Congress Center with a beautiful central court, making it possible to enjoy the wonderful weather we had in the German capital. A live band contributed to a relaxing atmosphere, greatly appreciated by delegates, involved in continuing to build their yearlong relationships.
As part of any good stay in Berlin, CEPIC made sure that participants also had the opportunity to discover the city with tours and tickets for museums made available, thanks to its Sponsors and Partners. Without them the CEPIC Congress 2014 wouldn’t have had such great support at every level and wouldn’t have become this successful.

“A great Congress was just closed in Berlin ten days ago, I could say that it was one of the best events that CEPIC has ever organized. We were impressed to see the response: a good number of  Delegates and companies coming to Berlin for their annual gathering; great participation in our seminars, all proving how important it is to be informed on what is happening and how it may affect our daily business. We did our best to bring the best speakers to inform us about the most burning matters and the response has stimulated us to keep this high quality in coming years.  We offer our huge appreciation for the support we recieve, year after year, from the very important companies that sponsor CEPIC to be able to organize this event. To all of them, sponsors, speakers, delegates a big thank you. We are now working to meet all of you in 2015 with an even better Congress.”
– Alfonso Gutiérrez, CEPIC President –

“I am so happy that Berlin, our home town here at CEPIC office, has worked out so well as a Congress venue! With over 500 delegates from 35 countries and all sides of the picture industry represented, CEPIC this year has shown again that it remains a must-attend event.”
– Sylvie Fodor, CEPIC Executive Director –

Sponsors and partners of the Congress were BING, images.de, ksp, dpa-picture alliance, age fototock, la collection, news aktuell, epa, reeldealhd, blitzbude, bpk, ctk fotobank, BVPA, hemis,  IPTC, ICOMP, RDI
Pictures of the Congress are available here: bit.ly/1hDigvo
Videos of the conferences and interviews are available here:https://www.youtube.com/user/CEPICCONGRESS

Pink Lady Food Photography of the Year 2014

by Julian Jackson  Courtesy of Visual Connections.  Originally published on Visual Connection’s Blog: http://www.visualconnections.com/blog/pink-lady-food-photography-of-the-year-2014/

Photography That’s Good Enough To Eat

Winners have been chosen in the international photography competition Pink Lady® Food Photographer of the Year Award 2014. The category sponsored by specialist food images agency StockFood is “Food off the Press” for the best recently published food photograph.

Winning photos were chosen in 16 different categories. British photographer Tessa Bunney was named Pink Lady® Food Photographer of the Year 2014 and won the top prize with a cash award of £5,000 ($8400). Her photo “Noodle Making,” taken in Laos impressed the international jury of 31 top experts. The awards ceremony took place at the prestigious Mall Galleries in London.

(c)Tessa Bunney
Noodle Making  (c)Tessa Bunney

Jonnie Léger, General Manager of StockFood UK, says, “The awards celebrate all aspects of food and food photography, and are judged by an elite panel of food and photography professionals. They are the perfect platform for photographers’ work to be seen, recognized and celebrated.”

Headline sponsor, Pink Lady, famous worldwide for the apple of the same name, has honoured the best work of modern food photography for the third consecutive year. This year a total of approximately 6,000 professional and amateur photographers from more than 50 countries participated in the competition. This doubles the number of entries in the first contest two years ago.

Clovelly Herring Festival (c) Guy Harrop
Clovelly Herring Festival  (c)Guy Harrop

Jonnie Léger adds, “The award has highlighted the art of food photography within the industry as well as with amateurs. Today, everyone with a camera or even a mobile phone is a ‘photographer’. On the whole, this is positive and it’s been celebrated with mobile phone categories within the main award. What is interesting is how amateur and professional alike are using all equipment and media available and producing breathtaking work. This award illustrates the artistic merit of all food imagery from film to still, from amateur to widely acclaimed professional. Seeing the shortlist of entries displayed in one place both accentuates the availability of food photography to all eager ‘Foodies’ and at the same time celebrates the highly skilled art of the professional food photographer. In my mind, this can only raise the professional profile of photographers.”

More than 400 photographers from 20 countries entered the StockFood sponsored category Food off the Press. The entries were recently published images that have appeared in books, magazines, newspapers or advertising. Caroline Martin’s photograph “Roast Pigeons” won despite stiff competition. She is represented in the StockFood Collection with more than 250 photographs. Second and third place went to British photographer Guy Harrop for his (“Herring Festival”) and to Becky Lawton from Spain for her unusual (“Delicias Bajo Cero“). Lawton is also represented in the StockFood Collection with more than 450 photos.

Delicias Bajo Cero (c)
Delicias Bajo Cero  (c)Becky Lawton

Jonnie Léger continues, “StockFood is very proud to be a sponsor of an award which has a passion for all things food at its core. Our category, StockFood Off the Presscelebrates imagery which has been previously published.  This allows us to further support the photographers who work in our industry.The awards are great for everyone involved. Judges are exposed to the best of food photography; Photographers at all levels are celebrated and their work seen by not only the general public, but also the ‘great and the good’ of the photography and food worlds. For StockFood, we are able to support the industry, its core professionals and those who will become the next sensation.”

Roasted Pigeons (c)Caroline Martin
Roasted Pigeons  (c)Caroline Martin

The winning photographs can be seen here:

www.pinkladyfoodphotographeroftheyear.com/2014/finalists-gallery.php

StockFood, headquartered in Munich, but now with offices in the USA and UK, is a leading food specialist among image agencies, offering creative professionals in media, marketing, advertising and publishing the largest food image database on the internet at www.stockfood.com. This includes an unmatched range of rights-managed and royalty-free images, videos and features from over 1,000 internationally renowned photographers and film producers.

juliancoffeshopcuJulian Jackson is a writer with extensive experience of picture research, whose main interests include photography and the environment.  His website is www.julianjackson.co.uk.  He also runs a Picture Research by Distance Learning Coursewww.picture-research-courses.co.uk.  Linked-in profile.

“I Discipline Google”

In response to Mathias Döpfner’s letter in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (http://blog.pacaoffice.org/?p=1904), Joaquin Almunia, Vice-President of the European Commission and Commissioner responsible for competition, retorts some of the allegations as the Google anti-trust investigation continues to heat up.

“It is not true that the European Commission lets Google continue its abusive business practices. Under the Commission’s pressure, Google has made concessions, which – should they become legally binding – will significantly hit the corporation’s monopolistic practice.”

By Joaquín Almunia

Dear Mr Döpfner,

In your open letter to Eric Schmidt, Google’s CEO, published on April 16 in the , you made some comments directed explicitly at the European Commission and myself. Basically, you accuse the Commission of not acting against Google’s abuse of its dominant position in the online search market. I do not agree with you and in the following, I will explain why.

Let me first remind you of the facts. In November 2010, the Commission decided, upon my suggestion, to initiate an anti-trust investigation against Google. After thorough examination, especially after having analyzed a great number of formal complaints, I expressed serious concerns with regard to several of Google’s business practices. One of them is Google’s prominent display of its own specialized (or “vertical”) online search services within its normal search results without the user being informed about this kind of privileged display. It is indeed true that such methods may serve to unlawfully redirect Internet traffic towards Google’s services and are capable of discriminating against services of competitors, which might be equally or even more relevant to the user.

In the interest of all users, the Commission questioned Google’s methods and asked the company’s executives to propose concrete solutions in order to prevent malpractice. After long and difficult negotiations, Google finally granted us substantial concessions. In a few months, the Commission has to decide if these propositions become legally binding or not. In case the Commission accepts Google’s proposal, effective competition will be restored and users can make qualified decisions when they use the company’s search engine.

Accepting the proposals would in fact result in three major changes. Firstly, users would be informed about which links exactly are marketed by Google and are not generated by the normal search. Secondly, a distinct separation between Google’s specialized services and the standard search results on Google’s website would be introduced. Thirdly, Google would, when presenting its own services, present the specialized services of three competitors in a way that makes them clearly visible for the user. These competing links would additionally be presented in a comparable visual format.

In your open letter you describe these concessions as if ‘a new window for advertisements was installed at the top of the search result list’, which allows Googles to make some ‘additional income’. This interpretation is completely wrong. The proposed measures provide for that the links of three competitors are presented whenever Google is marketing its own services. If merchants don’t have to pay for being displayed (e.g. restaurants in Google Local), then competitors wouldn’t have to pay for that either. The three competitors would simply be chosen on the basis of their ranking in the ‘normal’ search results. In other cases, Google asks merchants for fees in order to be displayed in the specialized services, e.g. the price-comparing service Google Shopping. According to the proposed measures, Google would in these cases be forced to give up a significant part of the space they’re currently using to market their own services. This means that whenever Google decides to offer a – as you would call it – ‘new window for advertisement’, they would be forced to share the space with their competitors and allocate a comparable space to them.

Since Google would normally be generating income by charging merchants for that space, competitors would now have to pay likewise to be displayed in that space, according to Google’s proposal. To be picked, Google’s competitors would have to bid against each other at an auction to which only providers of specialized services are admitted. Instead of selling the space to their customers, Google would have to offer it to competitors. This would therefore not generate any ‘additional income’ for Google.

Furthermore, you purport that users won’t always find the result ‘that’s the most important and best, but the most profitable for Google’. The proposed measures achieve exactly the opposite result. Whenever Google is marketing their own specialized services and is displaying them in an accentuated manner – as it is the case today – the proposal would oblige Google to display the links of three competitors clearly visible and in a comparable visual format. This would give users a real option of choosing between different alternatives. Today, the privileged commercialization of its own products by Google has as the consequence that consumers don’t necessarily perceive the competitors’ products, since they are not part of the best search results and not listed at those spots that costumers look at the most. The proposals would therefore give competitors a direct possibility of attracting online traffic and hence protecting incentives to innovation in specialized search. It would then be up to the users to decide which service he prefers.

On a general basis, there seems to be a fundamental misunderstanding that I am pleased to clear up. Article 102 of the contract forbids the misuse of dominant market positions. What is forbidden is the misuse – but not the simple existence – of a dominant market position. The Commission is not allowed to require from a company that it gives in to any requirement by his competitors only because the company has a dominant market position. It is our role to fight against misuse of market power in the interest of consumers, but not in the interest of the competitors. The discretionary power by the Commission in this field is not unlimited. If we require from a company that it changes its behavior, we do so on the basis of an investigation and well-founded concerns regarding competition law that have to comply with strict legal standard and are always subject to the control by the European Courts.

The Commission has analyzed all the claims that it has received. It is important to stress that when there are situations that can be considered as questionable from an antitrust point of view, the Commission cannot request remedial actions that go beyond the necessary steps to resolve the concerns. We cannot dictate Google how it has to design its website. If we would request that Google presents its own specialized services in the exact same way as the services of competitors, this would mean that depending on the algorithm, Google services would not even appear on their own page. This would represent a restriction by an antitrust authority that has never been seen before.

It is not our role to keep Google from introducing innovation and trying to meet the needs of customers by developing and offering new services. This would not be in the user’s best interest. Our role is to ensure that Google does not prevent competitors to do the same. In other words, the role of competition policy in this case is to prevent that Google’s competitors are being restricted from effectively participating in the competition because of the preference that Google gives to its own services. The reason for this is that less competition can negatively affect consumer choices and incentives for innovation by competitors. I would like to reiterate that once alternatives are being presented to users, competition should take place based on the quality of the different services available, and it is then up to the users to click on the option that they prefer. The appearance of competitors’ links in a similar visual format would give Google’s competitors a real opportunity to direct these users to their services.

Furthermore, you claim that “Google could elude any commitments” by simply redirecting users from an Internet address towards an app. I absolutely disagree with that, too. The proposals we have obtained from Google contain all the measures necessary to prevent this from happening. The obligations would not only apply to queries at Internet addresses but also for Google’s Android apps. Moreover, if the Commission decides to declare the proposals legally binding for Google, an independent trustee will ensure that Google duly implements its obligations. As you know, companies that do not comply with the Commission’s anti-trust decisions risk high monetary penalties. In the past few years, non-compliance with two of the Commission’s anti-trust decisions has cost Microsoft fines three times higher than those for the abuse of its dominant market position itself. By the way, one of those decisions was based on commitments the Commission has made legally binding.

In conclusion, please allow me to comment on the particular concerns expressed by news media. I can perfectly understand that the utilization of press articles by European editors within Google News gives rise to concerns. From an anti-trust perspective, the problem consists in Google’s ability to use its market power in the general online search for obtaining content created by others and for integrating this into its specialized search services, including Google News. This is why the commitments we have obtained would allow press editors to prevent Google from showing their content fully or partially in Google News, without such a prohibition having negative effects on their website’s ranking within Google’s general search results. However, copyright issues surfacing in this context need solutions that lie beyond the scope of competition law. The same holds true for questions regarding the protection of personal data. In both cases, rules sanctioning the abuse of a dominant market position cannot substitute appropriate guidelines or regulation measures. Finally, I would like to add that compliance with anti-trust rules is a necessary prerequisite but by far not the only instrument to ensure the well-being of Europe’s digital sector.

Regarding issues that do indeed fall in the realm of competition law, the European Commission will keep a watchful eye on Google’s business conduct. The complainants in the current case will soon get the possibility of laying out their points of view on Google’s settlement proposal as well as to our arguments why we consider these proposals sufficient for addressing our concerns regarding parts of Google’s business conduct in the online search and online advertising market. If the European Commission accepts the proposal at the end of this process, they will become legally binding for Google. It would mean that important aspects of Google’s activities would be effectively regulated for the coming years. Unrelated to the current proceedings, Google’s very high market share and its role as a de-facto gate keeper of the Internet will also mean that the European Commission will continue to keep a close eye on Google’s business practices. This oversight is crucial in a fast moving market, in which problems can arise in a short period of time. And in fact we are already in the process of investigating concerns regarding the Android operating system, even though this investigation is still in a preliminary phase.

There is no question that Google’s market dominance poses a number of challenges for our economy and our society. These challenges span from the way the Android ecosystem functions to the collection and use of enormous amounts of personal data to the usage of third-party content, to the respect for intellectual property, and to tax tactics, to name a few. All of these issues deserve to be looked at with the same intensity by the authorities, and each one of the issues should be addressed with the right political tools. The current competition case against Google is only a part of the puzzle. But it is a part which could solve the specific competition concerns as quickly as possible.

Kind regards,

Joaquìn Almunia