Google is accused of distorting search results in favour of its own services, including Google Images, Shopping, Maps and several others, affecting competitors from media companies such as Getty to travel sites and price comparison companies.
Getty’s latest complaint, following its registration as an “interested third person” in June, revolves around Google Image search, which displays images from across the internet in response to picture or word search terms.
The image company’s complaint specifically calls out changes made to Google’s Image search in 2013, which it says created “captivating galleries of high-resolution, copyrighted content” and “promoted piracy, resulting in widespread copyright infringement”.
“Because image consumption is immediate, once an image is displayed in high-resolution, large format, there is little impetus to view the image on the original source site. These changes have allowed Google to reinforce its role as the internet’s dominant search engine, maintaining monopoly over site traffic, engagement data and advertising spend,” Getty said.
Google has refuted the anticompetitive claims, which form part of the growing unease over the dominant position of US technology firms within Europe. The US company holds a 90% search share across Europe, and is facing several antitrust investigations from the EU.
Yoko Miyashita, general counsel for Getty, said: “Artists need to earn a living in order to sustain creativity and licensing is paramount to this; however, this cannot happen if Google is siphoning traffic and creating an environment where it can claim the profits from individuals’ creations as its own.”
Google is not the only tech firm currently under the spotlight. Facebook is facing several investigations and lawsuits over its privacy practices across Europe. But recent action by EU competition chief Margrethe Vestager has thrown Google back under the spotlight.
The company is accused of using Android, which is the most popular mobile operating system in the world running on billions of mobile devices, to “protect and expand its dominant position in internet search”.
Google declined to comment.
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