@KatHall42: Google [FINALLY] hit with record antitrust fine of €2.4bn by Europe

According to Kat Hall’s insightful reporting in The Register:

Google has been hit with a record antitrust fine of €2.42bn (£2.1bn) from the European Union today for promoting its own shopping search service over those of smaller rivals.

The regulator found that Google had abused its market dominance as a search engine “by giving an illegal advantage to another Google product, its comparison shopping service,” it said.

European regulators gave the tech giant 90 days to stop its illegal activities or face fines of up to 5 per cent of the average daily worldwide turnover of parent company Alphabet. That currently amounts to around $14m a day.

The commission has the power to fine Google’s parent up to 10 per cent of its annual revenue, which was more than $90bn (£70.8bn).

Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said: “What Google has done is illegal under EU antitrust rules… It has denied other companies the chance to compete on their merits and to innovate, and most importantly it has denied European consumers the benefits of competition, genuine choice and innovation.”

“Most importantly, today’s decision shows that in Europe companies must compete on the merits regardless of whether they are online, the high street, and whether they are European or not.”

She said since she had taken the helm as commissioner in 2014, she has given high priority to the case. During its probe, she said the commission sifted through terabytes of data, the equivalent of 1.7 billion search queries: “It’s a lot of data and it is of course needed because our decision has to be based on firm evidence. “

She said she has no reason to believe that Google will not comply, but said the commission intended to monitor Google’s compliance closely. “This means this issue will remain on our desk for some time. “

This decision was a very long time in coming–which means of course that Google have managed to operate illegally since at least 2010 with this fine hanging in the air (see my 2014 post “The Delay’s The Thing: April Fools and the Google Antitrust Case at the European Commission“).

Not surprisingly, the Computer and Communications Industry Association came out with one of those innovation based thingys defending Google, a fellow member of the MIC Coalition cartel.

Obviously more on this to come, but the real question is when will the EU go after Google for YouTube.

If you ever wondered just how arrogant the YouTube negotiators really are, realize that these geniuses decided that it would be a good time to alienate the WIN and Merlin labels–based in…where was that again…oh yes…Europe…right in the middle of the EU antitrust investigation.  And how did they alienate the indies?  By doing pretty much the EXACT SAME THING that Google was accused of doing in search–abusing their dominant position to benefit themselves.

To be continued…

@marcps: Pandora CEO Tim Westergren Stepping Down: Report

Pandora’s founding CEO Tim Westergren, who returned to the top job just last year, intends to step down as the streaming service’s leader in the near future. According to Recode, which cites “people familiar” with the plans, Westergren won’t go anywhere until a replacement has been found and is in place.

Read the post on Billboard

@sisario: Spotify Is Growing, but So Are Its Losses

Is streaming music a good business?

Streaming has taken over as the dominant music format and is attributed with revitalizing the moribund business of record labels big and small. But for streaming companies, the answer is not as clear-cut.

Read the post on the New York Times

@andreworlowski: “President Zuck” Fundraiser Opens for Business–“I’m Commander-in-Chief, bitch!”

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A fundraising vehicle to help get the world’s fifth richest man Mark Zuckerberg elected as President of the United States will now take your money.

The Super Political Action Committee (PAC) is called (inevitably) ‘Disrupt for America‘ and describes itself as “a progressive advocacy group focused on pragmatic, grassroots activism with an emphasis on social media, organized assembly, and open discourse and debate.”

These particular ‘progressives’ are a forgiving lot: Zuckerberg’s early business card at Facebook gave his job description as “I’m CEO, bitch”, and the frat boy culture manifested itself early on, according to former employees.

But that’s all water under the bridge now.

Read the post on The Register

@bgedelman: Uber Can’t Be Fixed — It’s Time for Regulators to Shut It Down

Jacob’s golden ladder
Get’s slippery at the top
And many a happy-go-lucky saint
Has made that long long drop

From Step by Step, written by Jesse Winchester

Many have forgotten that Travis Kalanick was a founder of Scour, the illegal peer-to-peer file sharing service that declared bankruptcy in 2000.  According to the LA Times,

“[Scour’s bankruptcy] filing puts the company’s daunting legal and financial troubles on hold and gives company officials time to develop a plan of reorganization that ultimately must be approved both by its creditors and the court. The company has more than $100 million in debt, and estimated its assets at between $1 million and $10 million, according to the filing in federal Bankruptcy Court in Los Angeles.”

With this ignominious destiny in mind, read Professor Ben Edelman’s analysis of Uber’s (and Lyft’s) fatally flawed business model and think about how you could substitute “Scour” for “Uber” right up to the bankruptcy part—for now.  If the Dot Bomb crash taught Silicon Valley anything, it should have been how Dot Bomb fall down go boom.

From many passengers’ perspective, Uber is a godsend — lower fares than taxis, clean vehicles, courteous drivers, easy electronic payments. Yet the company’s mounting scandals reveal something seriously amiss, culminating in last week’s stern report from former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.

Some people attribute the company’s missteps to the personal failings of founder-CEO Travis Kalanick. These have certainly contributed to the company’s problems, and his resignation is probably appropriate. Kalanick and other top executives signal by example what is and is not acceptable behavior, and they are clearly responsible for the company’s ethically and legally questionable decisions and practices.

But I suggest that the problem at Uber goes beyond a culture created by toxic leadership. The company’s cultural dysfunction, it seems to me, stems from the very nature of the company’s competitive advantage: Uber’s business model is predicated on lawbreaking. And having grown through intentional illegality, Uber can’t easily pivot toward following the rules.

Read the post on Harvard Business Review

@markscott82: Google Said to Be Facing Record E.U. Fine by End of August

European antitrust officials are preparing to hit Google with a potentially record fine by the end of August over some of the Silicon Valley giant’s search services, according to two people with direct knowledge of the case.

Margrethe Vestager, the European Union’s competition chief, is in the final stages of ruling on the case, said the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk publicly. Any financial penalty is expected to be larger than the fine of 1.06 billion euros, now about $1.2 billion, then about $1.4 billion — at the time the highest ever — that Intel was forced to fork out for antitrust abuses in Europe in 2009.

As well as the fine, European officials could also force Google to alter how it operates in the region, and potentially elsewhere, to give rivals a greater ability to compete.

The case, linked to claims that Google diverted traffic from competitors’ services to favor its own comparison shopping site, is one of three investigations that the European Union’s executive arm has opened against the search giant. The other two involve Android, the company’s mobile software, and some of Google’s advertising products.

Read the post on the New York Times

@illusionofmore: Lenz Ruling Isn’t Really About the Little Guy

eff-shill

Let’s not buy into the BS–there was one reason and one reason only that Google Shill List Member the Electronic Frontier Foundation took on the Lenz case against Universal.  That reason was disclosed by their own client Stephanie Lenz in no uncertain terms according to CNET:

Last fall, the case appeared to be winding towards a conclusion when something rare occurred. As both sides were preparing to request summary judgment–when lawyers try to persuade the court that there’s enough evidence to rule in their favor–Universal instead argued that Lenz had waived her attorney-client privileges.

The record label showed the court how Lenz “disclosed repeatedly–in e-mails to friends and family, Gmail chats, and on her personal blog the substance of what she and her lawyers have discussed.” Universal suggested in court documents that Lenz’s writings reveal she suffered no injuries as a result of her video being briefly removed from YouTube. Universal argues that she was nudged into filing the suit by EFF, which believed the Lenz case “would make an excellent vehicle for trying to change the legal standards and public debate.”

“I don’t care that YouTube doesn’t want to host it [my video],” Lenz wrote to one associate, according to court documents. “Not like I’m paying them” and another missive included this passage “EFF is pretty well salivating over getting their teeth into UMG yet again.” [emphasis mine]

This is a battle of the behemoths–Google’s proxy the EFF versus Google’s real enemy, Universal Music Group.  Why does Google and the EFF have such besotted blood lust for Universal?  Because Universal has the means to stand up to the EFF’s sponsor.  Lenz just happened to be in the right place at the right time to further the goals of a multinational media company like Google to destroy artist rights.

In an insightful post from 2015 that is well worth re-reading in light of the Supreme Court’s denial of review in the Lenz case, David Newhoff sets the record straight and foreshadowed the result:

In practical terms, what the ruling likely does mean for independent creators in the present is that they may feel even more confused about fair use than they already were, and they will have greater fear with regard to enforcing legitimate infringement claims, at least via the DMCA takedown procedure.  And this is what truly galls me about the ruling and all the crowing about it:  the pretense that this a victory for the little guy over the big, bully corporation. Because in reality, this ruling may further disenfranchise individual creators while probably doing very little for general users; but it does at least appear to move the ideological needle toward legal conditions that favor the biggest corporate bullies in the room. So, bravo, EFF!  You’ve won at least a partial victory for the underdog we call Google.  First some basics…