Google Inc (GOOG) In Trouble As Getty Images Participates In EU’s Antitrust Probe

Two months ago, European Union began investigating business practices of the internet giant Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG). The investigation lead to an antitrust probe that believed the search engine favored its own websites and ranked them higher in search results. Earlier it was related to shopping but now it appears that the antitrust probe is interested in grievances of Getty Images too.

Getty Images and Its Claim

Getty Images is one of the largest photo agencies in the world that holds more than 100 million licensed images. The majority of the company is owned by Carlyle Group and partially owned by Getty Oil Family. The company sells its photos to publishers.

Getty Images complained to the European Commission authorities that Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) favors its own image search results over the link to official content by Getty Images even if the content is not relevant. The company illustrated this with a search of “stock photos of coffee shop” where Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) ranked its own image search and advertiser’s images over the search result of Getty images. The company claims that this practice has cost it traffic that could be potential buyer of its content.

According to Getty Images, such unfair ranking drives less traffic to its site and thus their growth have slowed in last few years. Interestingly, European Union has entertained this claimed and has entered Getty Images as “interested third party” in the Antitrust Probe. This will allow the company to submit evidence against Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG).

The Copyright Problem

The company also presents a copyright issue where it claims that the search engine is using the official content of Getty Images in its search results. The company has previously sued Bing in a similar copyright issue and later dropped the suit when Bing entered into a partnership agreement with it. Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) has refused to enter in any such partnership.

Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) has always denied the allegations of EU’s antitrust probe. The company declined to comment on the issue of Getty Images. It remains to be seen how the case develops as the probe is now expanding its scope.