In June, following a complaint by the collecting society Corint Media, the Federal Cartel Office initiated proceedings against Google to review the Google News Showcase under antitrust law. The US group has since made proposals and in some cases has already taken steps to allay the Bonn authorities’ concerns about competition law.
The President of the Federal Cartel Office, Andreas Mundt, explained on Wednesday that Google reacted promptly to the allegations of anti-competitiveness: “The integration of the showcase content into the general search is no longer planned.” The conditions for participation in Google News Showcase should also not prevent the publishers from asserting the general ancillary copyright, which has been tightened again by the Bundestag.
Press publishers have the opportunity to present selected content in Google’s “shop window”. These mini news tickers are currently displayed in Google News and Discover. According to the cartel office the US group has already changed some of the controversial behavior and has agreed to address remaining concerns about the contracts. In particular, a clear dividing line should be drawn between the showcase agreements and the ongoing negotiations between Google and the publishers on remuneration for ancillary copyrights.
In order to ensure that these steps are effective, the Cartel Office is dependent on the assessment of the market participants concerned, said Mundt. In view of the “sometimes very different interests of the publishers”, the competition authorities are now carrying out “a broader consultation in the industry”. Parallel to the ongoing reviews, “we are keeping a close eye on the negotiations on the remuneration of the ancillary copyright,” emphasized Mundt.
Google and the ancillary copyright
In its proceedings, the authority examines, among other things, how the conditions for access to Google News Showcase are designed and whether non-discriminatory access is guaranteed for press publishers. Above all, it keeps an eye on the underlying contractual conditions.
Google has just announced that it has signed contracts with other publishers. These include the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung” (FAZ), the Madsack publishing group, the “Hamburger Morgenpost”, the Correctiv editorial team, the “taz”, IDG Communications Media, Extent Media (Eurogamer) and the publisher of the local “Prenzlauer Berg Nachrichten”. . According to the company, it has now concluded license agreements for almost 60 publications in Germany. Among the first to sign were “Spiegel”, “Zeit”, “Handelsblatt”, “Tagesspiegel” & Co.