News Corp. Claims Google News Is An Antitrust Violation In Europe

from the good-luck-with-that-one... dept

With Google already facing antitrust issues in the EU over Android (and likely over search as well), News Corp has decided to pile on and to file a complaint with the EU Commission claiming that Google News is also an antitrust problem.

News Corp is concerned Google reinforces its dominance in general search by ?scraping? or copying content from publishers to display the results of news articles, according to the person. News Corp alleges that if the publisher doesn?t want the content to be copied, Google doesn?t show the articles in the results at all, the person said.

That News Corp hates Google is well known. The company’s CEO, Robert Thomson, has a history of barely comprehensible anti-Google rants, based on a confused (i.e. wrong) understanding of how the internet works. Thomson keeps claiming that Google is “stealing” News Corp content by linking people to it and sending the company traffic.

And, again, that seems to be the basis of the complaint here as well. It’s difficult to parse what the complaint even means. News Corp “is concerned Google reinforces its dominance in general search by ?scraping? or copying content from publishers to display the results of news articles….” Huh? Google indexes the web. That’s what it does. That’s how search engines work. Is News Corp trying to argue that indexing the internet is illegal? Really? And the fact that it’s built a specialized news service — how is that a problem?

And then the complaint seems to flip over into a complaint that Google doesn’t do enough: “News Corp alleges that if the publisher doesn?t want the content to be copied, Google doesn?t show the articles in the results at all.” Um, okay. If you don’t want Google to index your content, then how can it show the articles in the results? It doesn’t have the information to do so.

So what is News Corp’s complaint here? First it’s that Google indexes their content… and then they complain that if Google doesn’t index their content, they won’t show up in search results. This makes no sense at all.

Of course, that’s because we know what the real complaint here is: News Corp wants Google to give it money. Whatever you might think of the EU’s antitrust case against Google in other areas, this argument seems particularly ridiculous and just seems like Thomson and Rupert Murdoch’s sour grapes over the fact that Google is a successful company.

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Comments on “News Corp. Claims Google News Is An Antitrust Violation In Europe”

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That One Guy (profile) says:

Repeat after me: 'I demand to be paid for the free advertising you're giving me.'

And another individual whining about how Google has the audacity not to want to deal with parasites trying to shake them down for providing free advertising, choosing instead to just remove them from the service entirely.

Google provides the service, which means Google gets to set the rules, if you don’t want to be removed from the listings maybe don’t try to shake down the company providing free traffic to your site.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Repeat after me: 'I demand to be paid for the free advertising you're giving me.'

Yeah they obviously do want Google scraping their articles, but they also want to be paid for that scraping.

I guess these dinosaur media companies don’t get it – they think that they’re simply entitled to make money for publishing content – even if their content is valued the same as everyone else… They simply can’t live with the fact that their business model has dissolved and generates less revenue than it used to.

We call this evolution – you either adapt or die.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Repeat after me: 'I demand to be paid for the free advertising you're giving me.'

It’s a fundamental lack of understanding or intentional obtuseness regarding the nature of the internet. In the old days, people paid for their content, their newspapers and magazines, before they read the content to see if they wanted to read it. Now readers can choose single stories based on their own merit (or clickbait headlines) and only generate ad revenue (or none with adblockers) for a single page of content. It’s a reader-driven market now. They used to be able to sell a whole copy of a paper for a single article the way bands used to sell whole albums for one hit. Boo hoo.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Repeat after me: 'I demand to be paid for the free advertising you're giving me.'

“In the old days, people paid for their content, their newspapers and magazines, before they read the content to see if they wanted to read it.”

Yes and no. A lot of newspaper financing was based on the knowledge that most copies would be read by multiple people who didn’t pay for it. But, they were canny enough to know that this merely expanded the potential numbers of eyeballs for advertisers and they capitalised on this. Often, the cover price was too low for them to make a profit on the paper minus the ads, but they knew a low price would allow the ads to make them more profit than raising the price could ever do.

I know I’ve read copies of papers over the years (especially crap like The Sun and the Daily Fail) that I would never pay for. Same online, I will follow links occasionally to those cess pits depending on context given from a place like Google News, but I’d never go to their site otherwise.

At some point, the canny businessmen seem to have abandoned the industry, so they’re reduced to this whining and self-destructive flailing.

AJ says:

Re: nuff said

See, that’s where you’ve got it wrong. It’s not that they don’t want to be seen, it’s that they want to be paid to be seen. See how that works? The problem is, Google isn’t afraid to use the nuclear option, as seen in their dealings with Spain. I hope they give them what they are asking for.. but first let me get some popcorn popping…

DannyB (profile) says:

Re: Re: nuff said

Google needs to really, really use the nuclear option.

For an organization that has repeatedly made public anti-google rants, and now makes would could be taken as legal threats (“antitrust”), Google should just protect itself by permanently removing NewsCorp from all of Google’s indexes.

That should make them happy. Google won’t be scraping their content. Or ‘stealing’ anything from them.

And make it stick. No going back. Once they complain and want Google to re-list them in their indexes, Google should rightfully express legal concern, on advice of their counsel is even better, that NewsCorp and its CEO considers Google’s indexing of their site to be an antitrust violation. Google, out of an abundance of caution has decided to take the safest course of action and permanently delist NewsCorp until the earlier of (1) all time, or (2) the universe has no remaining usable heat energy.

These idiots need to learn something. They obviously don’t understand what they are talking about.

JBDragon (profile) says:

Re: nuff said

Yep, if they really didn’t want Google to be grabbing a few lines of everything and linking to it. That 100% takes care of the problem NOW. That’s been possible to do for years now. It’s not some new thing.

This is really about a Google shakedown for money!!! I’m 100% for Google to not link to anything form them. Their traffic would drop like a rock also.

Quite frankly if I was Google, when a company complained like this, I’d get on the phone to whoever and say go ahead and BLOCK anything of their from being linked on Google as they’re to lazy for a robot.txt at their site.

Of course then they’re want the government to go after Google for blocking them and how unfair that is. So really Google can’t win either way.

I.T. Guy says:

Re: Re:

You are flat out wrong. Google news provides a blurb, usually the first sentence letting the user know what the title was about with a link to the source.

Like this:
Can Donald Trump really hit 1237 before Cleveland?
CNN – ‎2 hours ago‎

(CNN) Donald Trump is now the only Republican presidential candidate with a realistic chance of winning the 1,237 votes to clinch the nomination before the national convention this summer

Which then links to a CNN article, driving viewers to that article and all its ads. CNN should be giving Google a part of that revenue, no?


Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Google does more than just news, exactly like News Corp. who do more than just newspapers. Google have YouTube, which have taken many young eyeballs & their specific advertisers away from News Corp’s video content via pay TV.

As Google & News Corp are competing for wallets in many different content areas there is no love lost between the two of them.

Newspapers are dying in their droves due to the loss of classified ads to internet competition & as far the the legacy industries are concerned Google is the internet, so therefore must be destroyed until the internet is News Corp et al.

JD says:

He's either misinformed or lying

NewsCorp says:

News Corp alleges that if the publisher doesn’t want the content to be copied, Google doesn’t show the articles in the results at all, the person said.

From Google support:

If you block access to Googlebot-News, your content won’t appear in Google News.
If you block access to Googlebot, your content won’t appear in Google News or Web Search.
Note that Google respects the more restrictive interpretation of your bots choice.

You can have your content show up in Google search but not Google News. For the want of a robots.txt, a thousand billable lawyer hours were lost…

I.T. Guy says:

"Google" News

A quick glance at google news taking the second result:
If you have no idea who Harriet Tubman is, you’re not alone
Washington Post – ‎38 minutes ago‎

Yesterday, the Treasury announced that it was putting Harriet Tubman on the front of the $20 bill and booting Andrew Jackson to the back of it, prompting millions of Americans to turn to Google and ask: “Who is Harriet Tubman?
and a link:

The damn link is longer than the lead in. I wish stupidity was painful. Then you could identify the dullards in an instant.

“News Corp alleges that if the publisher doesn’t want the content to be copied, Google doesn’t show the articles in the results at all, the person said.” the person also said, IT HURTS!!!!
What? Is Google just supposed to provide a link with no description?

limbodog (profile) says:

Let's not be entirely disingenuous here

What Newscorp wants is to have their article appear in teh search results with none of the text of the article. Just a link saying “Here’s an article on it”

It’s stupid, yes, but Google is attempting to either show excerpts or no results at all, no middle ground.

Newscorp is in the wrong. I just don’t want to disguise their actual argument.

JD says:

Re: Let's not be entirely disingenuous here

See my above comment. They can do that using robots.txt. Google has supported that use case for the entire life of Google News. If they actually wanted what they said they wanted they could fix it in 30 seconds (i.e., block the GoogleNews crawler but not the Google crawler).

But they don’t do that.

I wonder why?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Let's not be entirely disingenuous here

(i.e., block the GoogleNews crawler but not the Google crawler).

And then the Google crawler will show a blurb with the search result in Google. I don’t think “Google News” has anything to do with this, this is about news that appears in Google Search. It seems to me that News Corp. wants what limbodog says: They want the article to appear in Google Search results without article excerpts underneath the link.

I can kind of understand the issue News Corp has with it; I know there have been countless times that I’ve searched for a piece of information and the Google blurb about a third-party article highlights the info I’m looking for (if my GoogleFu is strong that day), which obviates my need to visit the site. On the other hand, highlighting a blurb of the information I’m looking for tells me that site has the info I want, so I might be more likely to click on it. It would depend on what type of info I’m looking for.

I mean, I think New Corp’s position is pretty dumb, but it’s not as dumb as it’s painted here.

However, while it’s been several years since I was working on websites for bands and artists and such, I’m pretty sure it’s trivial to use meta tags to feed the Google crawler the precise text you want displayed under your site in search results.

So that all leads me to believe that News Corp wants Google Search to continue working the way it does, blurbs and all, but now they want to paid every time an excerpt is displayed. This is something that sounds like madness to me. I don’t necessarily read every blurb that pops up. How would the payment structure work?

Jnite (profile) says:

Google is not the internet

Sorry if this comment doesn’t contribute much to the article, but I just had to write this down after reading so many articles about stuff like this.

I swear with every article I read about the complaints, lawsuits, etc that countries and businesses aim at Google, I keep having the same thought. Google is not the internet!

Their “problems” is with the internet and how it works. But they don’t understand the internet. The internet is not an entity, it’s an interconnected group of millions (billions?) of users across the globe. It’s not something they can sue and force to do what they want, so instead they attach a face to it, which is often Google.

Google is one of the name of the internet, so by aiming their guns at Google, they think they are aiming at the internet. Guess what? If Google closed up shop right now, none of the “problems” they are whining about would really go away. They just can’t wrap their heads around, or don’t care, that Google is not the internet.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Google is not the internet

It’s not so much ‘Google = Internet’, though that is part of it, so much as ‘Google has lots of money, we want some of that, give it to us’.

Google is big and has lots of money, their hope is that rather than go through the hassle of fighting back Google will just shove some money their way to shut them up.

Jnite (profile) says:

Re: Re: Google is not the internet

I wouldn’t doubt that being the case for some of the groups, but I also feel that isn’t the only thing. When it comes to groups like the government, I really feel it’s just them wanting to control the internet but they can’t, and they just can’t wrap their heads around why not.

So in their desperate attempt at controlling something they don’t understand, they attack the biggest power within the internet, hoping that this will give them the control they desire.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Google is not the internet

This, adn in addition to this, many users of the “Aunt Erna” variety really do not understand and differentiate computer technology this much. Microsoft Windows, Microsoft Word, Microsoft Office… it’s alle Microsoft something, amirite? Must be the same thing. I know lots of people who have trouble understanding and remembering those are not all the same thing. And in the same vein, there are lots of people for whom browser is a foreign word, it’s just “The Internet”. And what opens first when they use “The Internet”? Google. So, Google is “The Internet”. Lots of people really have no idea there even is an address bar on top of their screen, they just go to Google and search for everythign, even complete URLs. The address bar is just part of the technical stuff they ignore because they “can’t computer very well”.

That might also reinforce the attempts by government and corporate actors to control Google, because for some parts of the population, controlling Google would be much the same as controlling their whole internet experience.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

It’s good news that News Corp are making nonsensical arguments or that they don’t know how to make a simple configuration change that will stop Google from indexing what they’re complaining about without courts being involved?

I mean, it’s nice that you seem to be trying to support an actual argument here but you myth need to clarify which one.

DannyB (profile) says:

The job of prosecutors

Whatever you might think of the EU’s antitrust case against Google in other areas, this argument seems particularly ridiculous and just seems like Thomson and Rupert Murdoch’s sour grapes over the fact that Google is a successful company.

There might be a point of misunderstanding here.

In the US, it is the job of the DOJ is to prosecute companies for breaking antitrust law. Hurting competition through unjust means.

It is the job of the EU to prosecute companies for being successful. Hurting competitors through innovative means.

Anonymous Coward says:


Search results are more analogis to classifieds. The websites control the content via what they craft into the title and first paragraph of any article. As many these days manipulate that. Next the link which takes the searchers to article is like the phone number in classifieds, taking the user to the phone(website) owned by the classified poster. They are taking advantage of the huge readership/search traffic to try to capture people with an interest in the blurb and profit from it. No different from historical classifieds. If anything the news sites should be paying any search site no different then they require classified ad posters to pay them.

This is the analogy that needs to be put to the judges, let the news sites argue this, for either way they put it they argue against themselves. Either for not charging for ads or that they should be paying advertisers. It would be interesting to see the news sites suddenly beset with lawsuits demanding the newsites pay for stolen content by advertisers.

Anonymous Coward says:

Yes, I dislike News Corp. Yes, in general snippet tax demands must be met with scorn. But Mike is either deliberatly misunderstanding what they say here or he did not read their statement very carefully, because his paraphrase of the News Corp position is completely false.

I often note that articles on TechDirt twist statements of opponents unneccessarily and I think it’s a shame. Techdirt’s positions are usually strong enough that they do neither need to employ strawman tactics nor to vilify the opposing side on principle. It debases TechDirt and undermines the valid factual arguments made by our side in those discussions.

What News Corp alleges here has nothing to do with indexing at all, but with the EU publisher’s fetish of snippet tax. News Corp alleges that, if a service demands Google should show just the link, without the short excerpt usually given, Google instead removes the whole result instead of just the snippet part. It argues that, because of Googles dominant market power, a news site cannot accept the total removal from Google’s results, and thus is coerced to allow snippets or else.

It is a clever argument, and one that might even be successful if you accept the basic premise of any antitrust regime. The only reason the threat of complete removal instead of snippet removal carries any weight is because of Googles near monopoly in the search market in many areas of the world. Which means this Google policy (if true) is Google using monopoly power to extract contractual advantages it would not otherwise be able to obtain. That does sound like a classic antitrust case to me. I still don’t like it, and it irks me to admit they might have a point, but I think that is no reason to bury my head in the sand and twist their words until I do not have to admit that anymore.

Do you?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Thanks to the link of some earlier commenter the question of wether or not it’s true can be answered: it’s not. You can set a nosnippets tag for standard search and/or Google News, so there is a simple way for them to do exactly what they demand already. Which again makes this a story about technical incompetence.

But that just reinforces my argument above: they always give us enough real ammunition to use against them, can’t we dispense with the fake arguments?

Monday (profile) says:

Really should treat the bigguns nicer...

Google, Musk, All things WIKI, Micro$oft, Apple, and future fabulous Corporations, really, really need to be treated a little more fairly, and with alot more respect.


They’re the “ones” who will be footing the bills for for The Moon/Mars/Ganymede.

Those kids’ coming up now, and in the future are soooo lucky…

Just sayin’ 🙂

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