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French judge says free Google maps are anticompetitive and illegal

Written by Rich Fiscus (Google+) @ 02 Feb 2012 13:39 User comments (24)

French judge says free Google maps are anticompetitive and illegal Google has been ordered to pay 500,000 euros in damages for offering Google Maps free of charge in France.
Bottin Cartographes sued Google, alleging they were offering Google Maps for free to push competitors out of the market. Once their competition is gone, Bottin claims, Google plans to begin charging for the service. Despite the fact their allegation seems to run counter to Google's standard business model of using free services to generate ad revenue, a French judge agreed.

Google has vowed to appeal the ruling, which even Bottin's lawyer called "a decision without precedent," according to a report from AFP. In addition to the damage award, Google was ordered to pay a 15,000 euro fine.

Google has been criticized around the world by companies in various sectors for allegedly abusing their dominance in search to give their own services an unfair advantage. However, this seems significantly different from the standard complaints because of the wild claim that Google plans to begin charging users once they eliminate the competition.

It's hard to overstate the importance of that point. Depending on who you ask, favored treatment for Google services could be characterized as competitive or anticompetitive. Undercutting competitors for the sole purpose of putting them out of business is a very different matter.

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24 user comments

12.2.2012 14:10

Sucks to be on the other end of it but if I can sell something cheaper (or give it away) and you lose business or go out of business all together isn't that just your problem? Why should any government get involved? I thought that was how business has been done since the dawn of time...Short of communism and etc...

Further, to combat that isn't it you're opportunity to make the product better than I can so people still want to buy it from you? Or should I be able to sue when you do that?


Just my $0.02,

dEwMe

22.2.2012 14:17

i agree with the judge as google is somewhat doing the same as chinese steelmakers in dumping their product way below costs of others to the point that the wto is involved.

32.2.2012 14:51

Let me get this right. Google were sued because of something they could potentially do? Would surely be suicidal for them to just suddenly start charging for Maps once they had "Cornered the market." What would then stop other companies coming in and doing the same as them?

I do agree that their size means that they could become very anti-competitive by flooding the market with free products but come on.... Common sense is required. Bottin are just using the French legal system to suit their own ends.

42.2.2012 14:56

.Just because Google is giving away the maps subscription, it doesn't mean is completely free. You need to use your data allowance in order to navigate. If Google wins, is a good thing, because they "will never" be able to charge for the service.

52.2.2012 15:57

I wouldn't be too concerned if I were Google. Like the words of a famous mobster..."What'cha gonna do 'bout it".

62.2.2012 16:20

Does anyone else wish that France would just "Opt-Out" of the Internet?


Oh, Im sorry... Did the middle of my sentence interrupt the beginning of yours?

72.2.2012 16:37

Personally would have to agree with the French judge's decision. But not because of their maps service. Google started as a very small company offering one very useful product, a search engine. Now, you basically can't use the internet without having a registered Google account. Too many sites are being tied into this centralized system and consumers don't realize this is bad. It's not convenient, it's invasive. Because of this centralized account you basically can't do a thing without google recording or tracking it in some way. I consider a company with the slogan "Don't be evil" to be hypocritical if their next business step is a centralized service. So yes I do support the judge's decision. Google is creating a monopoly people won't notice because their products are currently free.




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82.2.2012 17:56

+Estuansis: There are many free mapping programs on the net. Not just Google.
Google just happens to be the best one.
Why should Google be forced to pull their free offering just because of some French Judges' baseless fear of some possible future?
What of Bing Maps? Mapquest?


Oh, Im sorry... Did the middle of my sentence interrupt the beginning of yours?

92.2.2012 22:57

you can't use google's services without a google account? are you bannanas? if you dont like them logging you, don't login youreself easy as that.

103.2.2012 0:53

I don't necessarily think that Google shouldn't be allowed to have their services. But I do believe they should have their power checked every step of the way. Small upstart business who quickly gain money and power usually abuse that power. Microsoft charging $300 for Windows 7 anyone? I know it's not a direct comparison but Google is IMO trying to blanket too much of the internet at once. It's turning from convenience to data farming.




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113.2.2012 4:57

@Estuansis

google can create a monopoly because there services are free but google will have no reason to charge because they currently make a great mint as it is, CEO's of google are very clever they know people love free stuff and company's love the get there advertisement out there and will target whats popular to get the biggest audience possible but just imagine how fast google would die if they started charging for there services say they charged you a $1 to search etc google would fall and fast they would loose there users then in tern loose there ad contacts because of a lack of audience so why would google ever charge for there services ? that would ruin them

if your so worried about your data being secret and from google then what do you have to hide ? obviously you must have something good to hide as nothing i put into google is sensitive or anything like im not going to google my afterdawn password for a laugh or anything stupid

@everyone
i suppose someone will have to sue yahoo, microsoft, AVG, facebook, afterdawn the list goes on for providing free services because they might eventually charge for there services

123.2.2012 6:09

I don't disagree with you. Google is fundamentally stuck with free products or they risk losing business.

The privacy concern is not so much what I have to hide, but that I don't want to be tracked. To a degree you can control how you are tracked, by Google's own built-in options, and by controlling scripts and cookies yourself, but everything is so intertwined that it's rather hard to control. I simply value my privacy, and avoid making any association with Google whenever I can. It stands to be said, though, that I do use their search engine. I don't want to be a recorded statistic, I want to stay off the grid and maintain my anonymity. That's what the internet started as, anonymity. Is that unreasonable?

I'm not saying Google is evil, or that they intentionally invade my privacy. But the fact remains that their continued blanket coverage of many popular services makes them hard to avoid. My least favorite thing is their insistent use of habitual analytics to better target ads at you. I don't want to be advertised to, at all. So why would I want to be advertised to more effectively?

I guess that the major factor here is privacy. A lot of people don't realize how much privacy/anonymity they are forfeiting with Google's networks. Once you have a Google account, it is associated directly with your browser, and tracks every single page you visit and click you make. You can only disable so much through Google's options.

Of course this is besides the entire point of this article. A French court ruling against Google's maps service. I don't agree with the ruling, but I do agree with challenging Google's power. Also, I do agree that suing Google based on speculation is wrong.

And actually there is a lot Google can find out about you directly from your search history, even if it is all absolutely benign. All it takes is a little simple application of human psychology. Also, Google certainly does NOT need to know my sexual preferences. I do use their search engine for adult material, and if I were to have an account that history would be attached to my identity permanently. It's not a matter of what's legal, illegal, appropriate, inappropriate, etc. What matters is that it's NONE of their business.

Basically, I'm agreeing that Google is far from evil or malicious. But as one of the richest companies in the world, they certainly don't need you or anyone else to defend them. They're rich enough to defend themselves...

This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 04 Feb 2012 @ 7:36



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133.2.2012 9:44

Originally posted by ThePastor:
Does anyone else wish that France would just "Opt-Out" of the Internet?
I wish they would opt out of the world :)

France is full of protectionism, they are inefficient producers adn heavily subsidised..look at their farmers, they go on strike all the time whenever they think their subsidies are goign to be removed

Oh, and no-one likes the French anyway :)

143.2.2012 10:44

is their a tesco's in france...Look what they've done to the small shops all over the place...is mr judge gonna give them a hefty fine for destroying people's lives?...


ged

153.2.2012 14:09

Ridiculous ruling for sure. Google will never start charging for maps.

I think concerns over privacy with google are silly. You may need a google account for some sites but your account doesn't have to have your name on it. I have 8 or 9 gmail accounts and only one has my name on it.

As for advertising, why would you not want targeted ads? You would rather see ads for crap you have no interest in? Ads don't make you buy anything, but ads do inform you about new products or services and I would rather those ads tell me about things I have an interest in. I'm not a sheep. I decide what to buy on my own.

163.2.2012 19:05

Originally posted by dEwMe:
Sucks to be on the other end of it but if I can sell something cheaper (or give it away) and you lose business or go out of business all together isn't that just your problem? Why should any government get involved? I thought that was how business has been done since the dawn of time...Short of communism and etc...

Further, to combat that isn't it you're opportunity to make the product better than I can so people still want to buy it from you? Or should I be able to sue when you do that?

damn socialists ...if google wants to give maps why should one be forced to pay this company nobody ever heard of ??

174.2.2012 0:50
llongtheD
Inactive

This will get turned over on appeal and Google will pay nothing. I wonder how much Bottin Cartographes is into that judge for though?
Had google already forced the competition from the market and then began charging, maybe they'd have a case. I guess it would be interesting to see what evidence Bottin had about Google's master plan.
If the decision is allowed to stand, cases against other free mapping services will be sure to follow. I've read other articles about this but can't figure out what the 15,000 euro fine is for. Was it court costs because Google decided to argue this ridiculous case?

This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 11 Feb 2012 @ 2:44

If your fish seems sick, put it back in the water.

187.2.2012 20:18

lunch

197.2.2012 21:07

Quote:
As for advertising, why would you not want targeted ads? You would rather see ads for crap you have no interest in? Ads dont make you buy anything, but ads do inform you about new products or services and I would rather those ads tell me about things I have an interest in. Im not a sheep. I decide what to buy on my own.
Because they're tracking your internet usage to be able to target those ads at you. Also, I dont see ads ever. I use ScriptBlock, AdBlock Plus and FlashBlock. They are low-resource, unintrusive and block ALL ads on every site. I dont want to be advertised to. I know what I want. Also, ScriptBlock blocks Google's tracking scripts which run on EVERY page you visit, on IE, Chrome, and Firefox. It's not a matter of what I'm hiding, it's the principle. ALL of my statistics should be voluntary, not some of them.



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207.2.2012 21:27

Originally posted by dEwMe:
Sucks to be on the other end of it but if I can sell something cheaper (or give it away) and you lose business or go out of business all together isn't that just your problem? Why should any government get involved? I thought that was how business has been done since the dawn of time...Short of communism and etc...

Further, to combat that isn't it you're opportunity to make the product better than I can so people still want to buy it from you? Or should I be able to sue when you do that?

europeans don't think that way ...they think lollycoddling is to be lauded and success necessarily spells cheating and skulduggery ...of course their socialist governments (read; liars) are there to protect (read; fleece) them and stave off (read; corner the market) evil competition !!

2111.2.2012 11:32

Where do I begin? First I would prefer that we didn't get into a right-wing smear campaign about France's democratic government. They fear their people, unlike our government. Second, I agree that the decision was unfortunate, at best, severely misguided in any case. I personally am a Democratic Socialist, but left right politics are not really relevant anymore. The issues have come down to right and wrong, for the people.

Back to the case at hand. Google, IMHO they will not ever start charging for maps if they continue to make the same money on ad sales. This is counter to the court's conclusion. This is a novel and terrible precedent legally though, I certainly hope Google wins on appeal.

This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 11 Feb 2012 @ 11:33

2211.2.2012 13:16

Originally posted by nevillem2:
Where do I begin? First I would prefer that we didn't get into a right-wing smear campaign about France's democratic government. They fear their people, unlike our government. Second, I agree that the decision was unfortunate, at best, severely misguided in any case. I personally am a Democratic Socialist, but left right politics are not really relevant anymore. The issues have come down to right and wrong, for the people.

Back to the case at hand. Google, IMHO they will not ever start charging for maps if they continue to make the same money on ad sales. This is counter to the court's conclusion. This is a novel and terrible precedent legally though, I certainly hope Google wins on appeal.
waaaat?? ...the French Gov they "FEAR" their people??? Have you ever been anywhere near France. Absolutely NOT true. They are resigned to the undue influence their government has in their lives and resigned to the incredibly burdensome tax structure to support the crushing socialist entitlements.

2316.2.2012 3:48

I would like to tell that judge to blow me in every single direction...

2416.2.2012 4:02

Quote:
I personally am a Democratic Socialist, but left right politics are not really relevant anymore. The issues have come down to right and wrong, for the people.
I'm a Republican with some Libertarian views, ie a different political party, and I have to agree. Politics is what starts messes like this. We need to concentrate on fixing problems and helping people, not stifling progress with an iron fist.



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