Thanks to our working relationship with CEPIC, we are kept up-to-date on the latest in the EU fight against Google. DMLA is been part of ICOMP, which has now joined forces with OIP (Open Internet Project) to bring more pressure on Commissioner Vestager. There are two related articles to read. Part of one is below and the link to one from Politico is here.
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END OF A EUROPEAN SUCCESS STORY? After a year or so of relative silence, Google’s rivals and opponents are back in the streets, cranking up the pressure on Europe’s Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager to act. Last week, it was ICOMP and the Open Internet Project, this week it is Kelkoo tearing into the Shopping case.
The chief executive of Kelkoo, one of Europe’s largest shopping comparison websites, said his firm could go under next year if Vestager doesn’t take serious action in the six-year-old case. “We’ve got to the point where we have nothing left to lose,” Richard Stables told us.
Join the queue, Richard. Foundem, the original complainant, closed its website in December; Yelp announced around that time it was closing its European operations, complainant group ICOMP is pooling its resources with the Open Internet Project, while many other shopping websites have shriveled. And yet Kelkoo’s outburst is significant: It’s a big European player, with a presence in almost two dozen countries and 230 employees.
Today’s blog post from Google is, unfortunately, simply another attempt to divert attention away from the devastating impact their self-preferencing has had on the online market, making many of the same old arguments we have seen before.
Commissioner Vestager has been clear that in her view Google’s systematic self preferencing of its own comparison shopping service, along with its demotion of rivals, is in breach of European antitrust rules. But, in spite of the detailed work and analysis of the Commission and others over many years, Google still refuses to acknowledge the impact of its anti-competitive conduct.
If Google truly believes “in the interest of promoting user choice and open competition”, and in the strengths of its arguments, we would urge them to make their case in front of the Commission and complainants at an oral hearing.
The decision is in Google’s hands, but holding a hearing could provide a unique opportunity for Google to present its full defence and for complainants and other interested third parties to offer their perspectives. We have long believed that transparency and a meaningful debate is in everyone’s best interest, and an oral hearing is an important step in ensuring that such a debate takes place.
We look forward to supporting the Commission in taking the case forward and helping to find robust and workable long-term solutions to remedy the harms caused by Google’s anti-competitive practices. ICOMP’s members, who represent a wide range of interests in the digital sphere, will be keen to ensure that effective remedies are speedily reached.
Kurt Sutter Attacks Google: Stop Profiting from Piracy (Guest Column) in Variety
In a very frank article in Variety, Kurt Sutter, executive producer of the FX drama series “Sons Anarchy” talks about how Google is misrepresenting the truth about piracy and copyright laws. He says they systematically destroying the future of artists by spending tens of millions of dollars each year on eroding creative copyright laws.
PACA and other international trade associations have been actively involved in IComp, an industry initiative for organizations and businesses involved in Internet commerce, which is working to stop some of Google’s practices, but we need the support of our members and the U.S. Congress. We applaud the EU and their ongoing efforts against Google.