Hausfeld files globally significant antitrust class action against Google for abusive use of digital media content

On December 12, Hausfeld filed a globally significant antitrust class action lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, Helena World Chronicle, LLC v. Google LLC and Alphabet Inc., against Google and its parent company, Alphabet Inc. (collectively “Google”), on behalf of all publishers of original news and reference website content (“Publishers”), for violations of Sections 1, 2, and 3 of the Sherman Act and Section 7 of the Clayton Act.

For years, Google has been abusing and starving the free press. Every year, it siphons off billions of readers and billions of dollars from Publishers through an anticompetitive scheme that extracts their content, publishes it on Google, and diverts readers and ad revenue. This scheme is part of an unlawful strategy to attract, trap, and maximize users within a “walled garden” that entrenches Google’s monopoly as the world’s largest search engine.

The key to this scheme is Google’s structure and dominance as a digital platform. Digital platforms serve as gatekeepers to online markets by leveraging key barriers to entry: scale, network effects, and switching costs. No platform has greater power than Google.

The anticompetitive effects of Google’s scheme cause profound harm to competition, to consumers, to labor, and to a democratic free press. The United States antitrust laws were designed to prevent a monopolist, or a structure achieved in part through merger or acquisition, from harming competition by abusing its monopoly or dominance.

Plaintiff Helena World Chronicle, LLC invokes the Sherman Act and Clayton Act to seek class-wide monetary and injunctive relief to restore and ensure competition for digital news and reference publishing and set up guardrails to preserve a free marketplace of ideas in the new era of artificial intelligence.

Read the full complaint here. 

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