Google, Italian Antitrust Authorities Reach Agreement Over Online Content

By Ed Silverstein January 18, 2011

Italian investigators have stopped their antitrust inquiry into Google after the company said it would give publishers increased control of online content, according to a report from Dow Jones News Wires.

The Italian antitrust agency, known as Agcm, said Google will improve transparency to provide more details on how online ad revenue is generated, as well as shared with Italian publishers, Dow Jones reports.

Agcm also recommended that the Italian parliament update national laws regulating intellectual property to improve how issues are resolved regarding online content, Dow Jones adds.

Agcm started to investigate Google in August 2009 after the agency got complaints from the Italian Federation of Newspaper Publishers (known as Fieg). The federation’s members include the publishers of such large newspapers as la Repubblica and Corriere della Sera.

Fieg had noted Google News Italia “aggregated content” without enough “transparency,” Dow Jones said.

Their approach gave editors little control on how news “was distributed and presented on the website,” Dow Jones said.

Google was apparently in agreement with the eventual decision by Agcm.

"While we comply with Italian and EU competition laws, we also understand that there is always room for improvement in our business," Google said in a statement that was reported by Dow Jones.

In a related matter, TechZone360 reported in November that European Union regulators would investigate whether Google has violated antitrust regulations by purposely lowering the placement of links to its rivals' sites when coming up with search results.

Depending on the outcome of the inquiry Google could be forced to pay billions of dollars in fines.

Google is the major search engine provider in Europe. It has about 90 percent of the online search market in the region, TechZone360 said.

Want to learn more about how federal regulations are shaping and re-defining communications and information technology? Then be sure to attend the Regulatory 2.0 Workshop, collocated with TMC’s ITEXPO East, taking place Feb 2-4, 2011, in Miami. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski has pursued the singular goal of ubiquitous broadband access to an open Internet. While some progress has been made, the most difficult decisions are ahead. What's the Commission to do? This program will examine the important issues facing the FCC including net neutrality, inter-carrier compensation and universal service reform, new CALEA legislation, next generation 911, additional spectrum for wireless broadband and the evolving role of state regulation. To register, click here.

Ed Silverstein is a TechZone360 contributor. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Tammy Wolf

TechZone360 Contributor

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