According to several news reports the Italian Competition Authority searched Google’s Milan offices this morning as part of an investigation into the company’s abuse of its ‘dominant position on the internet’, says paidContent:UK.
The investigation was sparked by a complaint from the Italian Federation of Newspaper Publishers criticising the search giant’s lack of transparency in handling Google News – in particular the ranking process.
“While we’ve devoted substantial resources to developing these products and learned a lot along the way, we haven’t had the impact we hoped for.”
Instead Google will focus on online audio streaming and advertising around this, phasing out the existing audio ads by May 31 and selling Google Radio Automation – the software that automates broadcast radio programming.
Up to 40 staff involved with the project are expected to lose their jobs, said Susan Wojcicki, vice-president of product management, in the blog announcement.
Google is making it its mission to make old newspapers available online. The search giant will partner with newspaper publishers to digitize millions of pages of news archives, and hopes to make more newspapers accessible and searchable online. In time
these archives will be blended into the main Google search results.
A group of Belgian newspapers are seeking up to £39m (€49m) in damages from Google for the search giant publishing and storing their content without permission or offering payment.
Last year Google lost a case brought against it by the Copiepresse group – an organisation that represents the French language press in Belgium – forcing it to remove cached versions of newspaper articles and take down content from its Google News service
The organisation’s secretary-general told Bloomberg yesterday it had summoned Google to appear again before a Brussels court so that it could decide on the damages. Copiepresse is seeking between €32.8 and 49.1m.
The damages would be in addition to the €25,000 (£20,000) daily fine imposed on Google by the court for each day it kept Copiepresse material on its site.
Google appealed the original court decision of February 2007, which ruled that it could not claim ‘fair use’ – acceptable under copyright law – for using a lines of text and linking to the original article.
A Google spokesperson told Bloomberg that it was still awaiting the results of its appeal and that it had not received notification from Copiepresse of any new court dates.