Google Italy

The European antitrust investigation into Google continues as European regulators ask vertical search rivals just how they would have been preventing from competing broadly with Google.

That news comes at the same day as Italian courts announce they have ended a legal investigation into Google News.

In 2009 the Italian Federation of Newspaper Publishers pointed out that Google News was making money of the content of Italian newspapers.

As usual, Google had countered that you can always opt out but preventing inclusion in Google News meant removal of the news articles from Google's widely used regular web search as well; for any company and especially online content companies a death blow.

Shortly after the investigation began Google made changes so publishers would be able to stop inclusion in Google News without harming their regular search results.

"We have worked cooperatively with the Italian competition authority and our publishing partners to address their questions and concerns.

While we comply with Italian and E.U. competition laws, we also understand that there is always room for improvement in our business."

-- Google

Web Content On A Deeper Level


"Content is King" is an of-used phrase in search engine optimization and marketing but as Google has grown to one of the world's richest companies on the back of online content it essentially doesn't own, (web) publishers are wising up and realize "Content is Big Bucks".

The use of some kinds of content in summaries or aggregators makes the original content less useful, less needed and thus less valuable. Less value equals less profit.

It's why the UK's Newspaper Licensing Agency " which includes News International, Mirror Group Newspapers, Telegraph Media Group, Express Newspapers, Associated Newspapers, Independent News & Media and Guardian News & Media " wants aggregators and news clipping services to sign an agreement which hands them 10% of the revenue they make when using their content.

The UK's High Court had to step in and decide on that one. It came down on the side of the publishers. The High Court ruled that aggregated links to newspaper content are protected by copyright law and that publishing those (aggregated links), especially on a revenue generating service, can and may be governed by a license agreement imposed by the originator of the content.

Content-wise Google so far has gone by a "asking for forgiveness is easier than asking for permission" policy, at times blaming misunderstandings or accidental behavior it was unaware of.

What's The Issue Anyway?


When the distinction between "search engine to find content" and "content creators and publishers" was very clear, with Google indexing other's content, there wasn't really any issue.

But over the years Google has started to put advertisement around snippets of other people's content  (Adwords). Or they have become a player in a content market, either as an aggregator or publisher. (Google Health, Google News).

Holding all the cards (sending traffic to a web site or not, outbidding another company on ads or not, etc.), Google's various interests are not only not always in line with the financial interests of the original publisher " at times they seem self-conflicting (see also: Google Boutiques & The Improved Google Vertical Model #monopoly #paytoplay).

What Does This Mean For You?

At the moment, for most countries and jurisdictions Google has a virtual by default right to your content. The onus of content preservation and protection against what Google would do with it is on you.

For most publishers this is not an issue. Most web site owners want their web site and content in Google, even if it means forcing (or "forcing") them in a First Click Free model.