Google Avoids Link Tax But Ambiguous New “Ancillary Copyright” Law Sets Up Legal Battle To Come

Google Germany In August of last year, a number of German lawmakers were pressing proposed "ancillary copyright" legislation that would have required Google and others that indexed or aggregated news to pay for links or excerpts from those news items. The proposed law was championed by German magazine and newspaper publishers who, like their counterparts in the US, are seeing declining readership and ad sales. The law did pass in the German parliament, but Bloomberg reports that a compromise reached earlier this week stayed in. That compromise will allow Google (and others) "to display 'single word [...]

In Another “Right to Be Forgotten” Case, UK Officials Threaten Legal Action Against People Posting Pictures Of Convicted Killer

Online security, privacy Although slightly different than the Spanish case discussed yesterday, the "right to be forgotten" has reared its head again -- this time in the UK." UK Attorney General Dominic Grieve has threatened legal action against anyone posting pictures of convicted killer Jon Venables online. TechDirt offers a short summary of the underlying facts of the Vendables case: Jon Venables, [ ] at the age of 10, murdered 2-year old James Bulger, in a rather horrifying story. Venables was released from jail in 2001, at the age of 19 (though he has since gone back to prison). Photos of Venables, now 30 yea [...]

Privacy Vs Censorship: Google, Spanish Government Face Off In European Courts

google-eu-featured In a test case that could have significant implications for Google throughout Europe the company faced off against the Spanish data protection authority in the Court of Justice of the European Union in Luxembourg. One could frame the case as "privacy vs. censorship." From the Spanish government's point of view its data protection authority is simply vindicating the recently articulated right (of individuals) "to be forgotten" -- to have content or data about them removed from the search index upon request. From Google's perspective, if the court agrees with Spain, the outcome would be tanta [...]

Europeans Taking Sweet Time In Resolving Antitrust Case With Google

google-eu-featured Google's antitrust case in the US concluded in January, much to the dismay of companies that had been agitating for tough action by the FTC. It was seen as a near total victory for Google. Rivals quickly turned their attention to Europe in the hope that, unencumbered by some of the legal issues that inhibited US regulators, it would be willing to impose "meaningful" restraints on Google. There were some signals from EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia that Europe was going to take a firm stand on the vertical search or "search bias" issue. Google's alleged "search bias" towar [...]

Has Google Overtaken Naver In South Korea?

Mary Leakey Korea Since roughly 2006 Naver has been the leading search site in South Korea. Consistently Google has been unable to break through and -- according to various traffic estimates -- has less than 5 percent of the market there. That's as recently as Q4 of last year according to data I've seen. Mysteriously, however, StatCounter is now showing Google soundly defeating Naver, and having done so since February of last year. I'm not in the habit of checking the status of the Korean search market often so this is the first time I've seen the StatCounter chart. Everything I've seen and read shows [...]

Australia’s Highest Court Relieves Google Of Liability For “Deceptive” Search Ads

google-australia-200px Yesterday, Australia's highest judicial body, called The High Court of Australia, overturned a lower court decision that held Google responsible for paid-search ads deemed deceptive by  Australia's antitrust regulator, the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC). According to Bloomberg, roughly six years ago the ACCC sued Google claiming that certain travel-related ads appearing in search results were misleading or deceptive. The Commission sought to hold Google responsible for the content of those ads, relying on a pre-Internet decision finding a TV broadcaster responsible [...]

Google Settles With France: No ‘Link Tax,’ But €60 Million Media Fund

google-france-french-featured Google has avoided getting hit with a "link tax" in France by agreeing to create a €60 million "Digital Publishing Innovation Fund" to essentially help French media adapt to the online age. The settlement, announced today in France by President Francois Hollande and Google's Eric Schmidt -- and announced on Google's blog -- ends several months of debate over France's plan to charge Google for linking to French news content. When the French law was first proposed, Google threatened to just stop linking to French newspaper websites, saying that the country's publishers would miss out on [...]

Google Submits Formal European Antitrust Settlement Proposal

google-eu-featured Yesterday, right under the deadline, Google delivered its proposal to the European Commission (EC) in an effort to settle potential antitrust claims against the company and head off a formal enforcement action. The proposal was required to concretely address four "areas of concern" identified by the EC. Briefly, those involve "search bias" and "diversion of traffic," improper use of third party content and reviews by Google, third party publisher exclusivity agreements and portability of ad campaigns to other search platforms. Google essentially addressed three of the four areas in its sett [...]

Get Me To The Gulag: Google’s Map Maker Becomes A Political Weapon

North Korean flag On Monday, Google announced that "citizen cartographers came together in Google Map Maker" to help create a "new map of North Korea" for Google Maps. BuzzFeed was the first to point out that the new maps contained references to "gulag" and "concentration camp." Beyond this, some people on Google+ have added satirical, fake reviews to those locations. For example, Gulag 22 (a real place apparently), is rated as "excellent," with one reviewer saying, "Most exquisite checkpoint, made possible by Honorable Soldiers of Glorious Leader." Google+ offers its standard invitation for you t [...]

After Years Of Anti-Competitive Complaints Foundem Sues Google In UK Court

Foundem Bloomberg reports Google is yet again being sued, this time by UK's shopping search engine, for alleged anti-competitive practices. This comes a week after the FTC ruled that there is not enough evidence to prove search bias by Google in their search results. Foundem is seeking damages for revenue lost as a result of Google’s “anti- competitive conduct,” lawyers for Foundem said. “Since a lack of original content is an inherent characteristic of all search services, including Google’s own, that reason cannot justify” Google's actions, Foundem said in the U.K. lawsuit. The [...]

Google In Privacy Flap With Germans Over New iOS Maps

Google maps logo iPhone According to a report in Computerworld, Google has violated German data protection and privacy rules with its new Google Maps app for the iPhone. When users install the app and agree to the terms and conditions there's a check box that authorizes Google to collect "anonymous" user location data. The fact that this box is an opt-out (rather than an opt-in) violates German privacy regulations, which require "informed consent" where personal data collection is involved. The fix is obviously easy for Google: simply uncheck the box as the default. Yet the likelihood that people will op [...]

Report: FTC To Say Google Did Not Violate Antitrust Laws

The New York Post is reporting that relatively soon, possibly as early as next week, the FTC is scheduled to announce a settlement of its antitrust investigation and potential claims against Google. The Post says that settlement will substantially let Google off the hook: Federal regulators are expected to close a year-long probe of Google’s search business without finding any antitrust violations, The Post has learned. The Federal Trade Commission is expected to announce before the end of the year that Google’s search engine did not cause any consumer harm or favor its own businesses, [...]

Google Wins Street View Reprieve In Germany But Confronts New Pro-Newspaper Copyright Restrictions

Google Germany Google dodged a bullet in Germany this week as prosecutors in Hamburg decided, after a lengthy investigation, not to pursue criminal charges against the company over Street View WiFi data collection. Essentially prosecutors found that Google lacked the requisite "criminal intent" to justify prosecution. Google faces another, arguably more daunting legal challenge in Germany however. It's now confronting a proposed "ancillary" copyright rule that could go into effect early next year and effectively eliminate Google's ability to index German news sites without licensing their content. France [...]

What Google’s Webmaster Tools Tells Us About CTR In European Markets

Last time, I was talking about the analysis of click through rates by position based on data from Google's Webmaster Tools and I promised we'd look at a wider range of countries. The chart below shows you exactly that data extracted from a wide range of webmaster data to give some relatively consistent averages. The data covers many tens of thousands of clicks. At first sight, you can see a fairly regular pattern (something we found across most European nations) and since the results are presented in largely similar ways by Google wherever you are, there's a certain inevitability to that. [...]

Google Fined $208,000 In Australian Defamation Case, May Appeal

google-australia-200px Google has been told to pay the equivalent of $208,000 (USD) after recently losing a defamation case in Australia involving how it showed a 62-year-old man's name in search results. Google is examining the original jury verdict and may file an appeal. A judge in the supreme court of the Australian state Victoria issued the fine today and, according to, compared Google's search results to that of an online publisher: Google Inc is like the newsagent that sells a newspaper containing a defamatory article," Beach said in his judgement. "While there might be no specific intention to [...]

China Blocks Google Search, Gmail, Google+, Maps & More

google-china-featured TheNextWeb reports China has decided to block Google services. Currently, Google search, Gmail, Google Maps, Google Docs, Google Analytics, Google Drive, and other Google products are currently not working when trying to access them within China. TheNextWeb received confirmation from Google that China is indeed blocking their services. This is happening during the 18th Party Congress of the Communist Party of China. It is unclear if the block is temporary for the 18th Party Congress or if this is something that is more long term. has more details on the block, show [...]

Google Is #4 In China As It Continues To Lose Market Share

google-china-logo Google continues to lose marketshare in China after pulling out of China years ago. New market share reports from Marbridge Consulting puts Google in forth place in terms of search market share. Google trails Baidu, Qihoo 360, and Sogou with only 4.72% share in China. Baidu has 72.97%, Qihoo 360 has 9.64% and Sogou has 7.83%. TheNextWeb adds that Google Maps also dropped, now in the 6th position based on China market share. The reason for the drop on the maps side is because of Apple dropping Google Maps in iOS 6 for their own mapping application. Here is the search market share rep [...]

Google Piracy Algorithm May Be Reviewed By UK Regulators

piracy-cd-music-featured The Guardian reports that regulators within the United Kingdom will be reviewing Google's efforts to remove piracy web sites from their search results because they feel Google has not done enough. In August, Google launched the Pirate Algorithm, which is designed to lower the ranking of sites that are repeatedly reported and found to have copyright infringement cases on the site. You can learn more on how that algorithm works over here. UK regulators are not satisfied and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport said they will review the technical changes promised by Google in order [...]

Google Loses Australian Defamation Case, Awaiting Decision On Damages

google-australia-200px Google is awaiting a judge's decision on damages before it decides what to do after losing a defamation case over its search results in Australia. A jury in the supreme court of the Australian state Victoria, ruled Tuesday that Google is liable for defamation because its search results connected the plaintiff, 62-year-old Milorad Trkulja, to phrases such as "Melbourne crime" and showed his photo near images of suspected members of Melbourne's organized crime scene. It's a complicated and strange case that the BBC details well. In short, my summary would go like this: the plaintiff wa [...]

After Meeting With Eric Schmidt, France Stands By Threat To Write Law Forcing Google To Pay To Link To News Sites

google-g-logo-2012 The French government is digging in its heels. After a meeting today with Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt, French President Francois Hollande reiterated the government's plans to create a new law to force Google to pay when it links to newspaper websites. The spat has been going on for a few weeks, since the French government first proposed a law that would require search engines to pay to link to content. After the original back and forth, plans were made for today's meeting in Paris. As Reuters is reporting, President Hollande didn't back down. The president reiterated that F [...]

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