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The Media Institute: Google "Stifles Innovators and Forecloses Competition"

Last week, The Media Institute filed a white paper with the Federal Trade Commission on “how Google is leveraging its position in search to dominate the media economy.” The Media Institute called for the FTC to curtail Google’s abuses as the dominant player in search to prevent further harm to competition among media companies, publishers and other content creators.

In the paper, The Media Institute said Google uses two key strategies for appropriating the creative work of others to further the profits it derives from maintaining its dominance:

  • “The first, exemplified by Google News, takes content from potential competitors to launch new businesses while depriving those competitors of the revenue their original content generates.” (In Searchville, this would be called “content scraping”)
  • “The second strategy, exemplified by YouTube and Google Books, is to test legal limits of copyright and, when challenged, to resolve any disputes by further cementing its monopoly.”

The Media Institute warned that “without some type of government intervention, the media economy is in significant danger of being dominated by this one entity that stifles innovators and forecloses competition…Google has shown a pattern of misdirecting users to its own webpages, displaying the content of others, and foreclosing competitors from that same aggregated content.” (Sounds like The Case for Fair Search)

And The Media Institute isn’t alone in its concerns; in fact its President, Patrick Maines wrote that “if the FTC gets around to asking (under subpoena and in confidence) what media companies think about that allegation, they better come prepared to stay awhile.”

As the FTC continues its broad antitrust investigation of Google’s business practices, The Media Institute paper adds to the growing chorus of those who are raising concerns about the impact of the company’s unchecked abuse of its power in the market, and its significance for both the American economy and health of the media, which plays an important role in our political and business system.