News October 27, 2015

European Commission now involved in Google’s YouTube dispute

Former Editor

The European Commission’s incumbent Competition Commissioner and antitrust enforcer, Joaquín Almunia, has accused Google of abusing its place as an online search giant and figurehead in the adverting business.

In a six-page letter penned to Almunia’s commission colleagues, and given to The New York Times by an unnamed source, Almunia said the commission could investigate Google’s “many allegations, the various practices that they cover, and the new types of markets that are affected.”

Among the plethora of proposed deals fired at Google – including implementing systems to keep the titan anti-competitive, protecting individual piracy and settling with technology companies – is the complaint independent labels and associations have with YouTube over non-negotiable licensing terms.

“[…] other complaints include one relating to Google’s use of images from third-party websites and, more recently, a potential complaint about the pressure Google is putting on independent music labels to extract better terms in its negotiations for a new streaming product on YouTube,” the letter reads.

The letter follows a meeting earlier this month between the Worldwide Independent Network (WIN) and independent sector representatives in London. The emergency press conference held on June 4 sought action from the European Commission for emergency assistance. Alison Wenham, CEO of WIN and Chairman of AIM (Association of Independent Music, UK), said the request for urgent regulatory action was the first step in a global campaign.

While Almunia needs the green light from his colleagues to finalise the proposals put together in a settlement, he did mention Google will be kept under close observation.

“It can be safely predicted that Google’s compliance with E.U. competition law will be closely monitored for a long while,” the letter reads.

If the European Union’s antitrust investigation with Google isn’t settled, as it was in the US in early 2013, Google could be fined 10% of its annual global sales – The New York Times have estimated the fine at nearly $6 billion.

Related articles