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Italy Ends Investigation Into Google

By Stephen J. Buckley
The Digest, Associate Form and Accuracy Editor

On January 17, 2011, Italy’s antitrust authority ended an investigation into Google’s internet news service after Google pledged to exert greater control over their content and their sharing of advertising revenue.

According to the New York Times, the Italian Federation of Newspaper Publishers first complained about Google News in 2009, alleging that “its members were unable to remove articles from the service without pulling them out of Google’s main search engine, a move that would cost them advertising revenue.”

As part of Google’s move to ease the publishers concerns, Google has agreed to disclose the revenue-sharing arrangements for partners of its AdSense program and to ensure that those publishers opting out of Google News won’t have their content removed from its search results.

The antitrust authority said that it had sent a report to the Italian government, urging lawmakers to overhaul copyright laws to make it easier for online publishers to earn money from the use of their content by others. Stating that “[a] national law that defines a system of intellectual property rights on the Internet can encourage virtuous forms of cooperation between owners of exclusive rights to editorial content and service providers that reproduce and develop innovative content protected by such rights.”

Additionally, the Italian publishers’ groups said that it was pleased with the agreement and that this would help their call for “legislative action designed to further safeguard the copyright in the media.”

While this agreement cooled off tension about Google in Italy, according to Bloomberg, Google still faces a probe by the European Commission as to “whether AdSense contracts prevent publishers from striking deals to place ads from other services on their sites.”

For more information, please see:

Eric Pfanner, As Google Worry Recedes, for Now, as Italy Ends Investigation Into News Service, N.Y. TIMES, Jan. 18, 2011, at B4.

Chiara Remondini, Italy Closes Google News Probe, Accepts Commitments, Bloomberg, Jan. 17, 2011, http://www.bloomberg.com/news/print/2011-01-17/italy-antitrust-acceptsgoogle- commitments-for-web-publishers.html.