Arkansas Publisher Sues Google, Charging It Has Created A 'Monopoly Broth'

Google and its parent Alphabet have been slapped with an anti-trust class action lawsuit by Helena World Chronicle LLC, an Arkansas publisher. 

The suit, on file with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, alleges that Google has created a “monopoly broth” and that its actions have contributed to the spread of “news deserts” in the United States.

The complaint seeks class action status, monetary damages and injunctive relief that would establish guardrails to create a level playing field for publishers and protect their bottom lines.

It can be expected that Google will mount a robust defense, answering the claims with granular detail, as it has in other cases. 

This plaintiff is hardly on the level of a Gannett. In addition to the Helena World Chronicle, it publishes the Monroe County Argus

Gannett’s suit against Google apparently is halted pending a decision on Google’s motion to dismiss. 



The 93-page complaint by Helena World Chronicle attempts to provide a history of the search engine industry and Google’s dominant place in it, right up to the creation of Bard, Google’s generative AI chatbot. 

Along the way, the filing alleges that Bard plagiarized a Helena World Chronicle story.  

In general, the complaint claims that publishers are trapped within Google’s “walled garden” ecosystem. 

“With an audience of 69.6 billion information consumers per month, is far and away the largest publisher of online news and reference content,” the complaint says. “Google produces none of this content: instead, it exacts unlicensed syndication from Publishers’ inventories copied by Google’s web-crawler.”

The suit also charges that Google has violated the Sherman Act with its acquisitions of companies such as DoubleClick, InviteMedia, AdMob, and AdMeld.

Repeating arguments that have been seen in other cases, the complaint states that Google serves search results in response to user queries, totaling billions of transactions.

“In a competitive search market, this relationship would be symbiotic, with the value generated by the exchange being split fairly and sustainably,” it says. “But in a monopolized search market, the relationship turns parasitic.” 

The suit continues, “Publishers have no choice but to accept this parasitic arrangement because they are locked in by Google’s gatekeeping role as a dominant digital platform. Google locks them in by leveraging barriers to entry and technical features of the search engine.”

TechCrunch broke the story of the litigation.



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