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German authority investigating Google news showcase

German competition authority investigating Google News Showcase

Germany’s competition authority Bundeskartellamt has launched an investigation of  Google news showcase, a platform with news from publishers. The authority said it must be ensured that not some publishers are discriminated.

The Google show case makes agreements with selected publishers while the EU’s new copyright directive means that big tech companies should compensate publishers in general for using their content.

The authority says that it understands that cooperation with Google could be attractive for publishers. “However, it must be ensured that this does not lead to discrimination between individual publishers. Nor must Google’s strong position in access to end customers lead to a crowding out of competing offerings from publishers or other news providers.”

“The examination is mainly based on the authority’s new competences under the new legal provisions applicable to large digital companies.”

“In the past months, apart from the proceeding against Google, the authority had already initiated proceedings against Facebook and Amazon based on this new competition law tool.”

Andreas Mundt, President of the Bundeskartellamt: “Cooperating with Google can be an attractive option for publishers and other news providers and offer consumers new or improved information services. However, it must be ensured that this will not result in discrimination between individual publishers.”

“In addition, Google’s strong position in providing access to end customers must not lead to a situation where competing services offered by publishers or other news providers are squeezed out of the market. There must be an adequate balance between the rights and obligations of the content providers participating in Google’s programme.”

The authority said it is also investigating whether the relevant contractual conditions include unreasonable conditions to the detriment of the participating publishers and, in particular, make it disproportionately difficult for them to enforce the ancillary copyright for press publishers introduced in Germany.

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