Last night in a post about Gmortgage I discussed how Google is helping to kill off the newspaper business with the help of others in the space such as eBay and Craigslist. Today I learned of an antitrust investigation against Google in Italy which was brought on by FIEG or the Italian federation of newspaper editors who are troubled because they feel they have no control over how Google presents their news on its site. Their only options are to block Google or give them full access.
Other than reading this article from the Wall Street Journal I haven't done investigation or read the complaint but on the face of it seems like a weak argument against Google. It is unclear what the search company is doing wrong - after all if you want traffic from Google you need to play by their rules.
Virtually all companies with websites know they need to work on their search engine strategies and improve them which basically means playing by the rules of Google, Bing, Yahoo and others.
If Google loses this suit does that open up the door for all Italian companies to sue Google because they aren't happy with the lack of transparency in PageRank and where their results are? How about the rest of the world? Imagine a free-for-all of lawsuits claiming websites and specific pages should rank differently.
A colleague of mine here at TMC made an excellent point recently. He said the web is democratic and in the end, if a search engine doesn't present the most relevant content in the way a searcher wants it, they will switch search engines. In other words Google is forced in general to offer the most important and relevant content to searchers and news viewers.
Having said that, it is obvious the Google Adwords model is killing off newspaper revenue but this doesn't seem to be related directly to the suit.