Germany's newspaper and magazine publisher associations, the VDZ and BDZV, have filed a complaint with the country's Federal Cartel Office against US internet giant Google.
Publishers want a share of Google's revenue
Germany's Cartel Office is also dealing with two other complaints against Google: one from a social-networking site for shoppers, Ciao, which is owned by Microsoft, and one from an online maps company, Euro-Cities.
The German publisher associations have previously complained that Google profits from their online content without offering them a fair share of advertising revenue.
Although details as to the exact nature of the complaint have not yet been released, the main concern is believed to revolve around "snippets" from media websites and news articles which show up in search results on Google News. Publishers say Google has not paid for the use of these articles, and that regulations must be tightened to protect the authors from plagiarism.
The associations also say the way search results are currently listed is unfair. In November, a BDZV official said his group wanted to know why some Google News results were ranked higher than others.
Google facing three complaints
The VDZ and BDZV's concerns about Google's business practices are shared by shopping site, Ciao, and map company, Euro-Cities.
Ciao's complaint is related to a contract about Google's automatic advertising system, AdSense, which Ciao signed before it was bought by Microsoft. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) reported that Ciao believes the contract to be overly restrictive, while not offering enough transparency on advertising revenues generated by AdSense.
Euro-Cities says its business model is threatened by Google Maps
Euro-Cities is unhappy with the fact that maps from Google Maps are being integrated on other Internet sites for free, saying the practice is destroying its business model, the FAZ reported.
None of the complainants have officially commented on the issue. Euro-Cities chief executive Hans Biermann said the parties agreed with the Cartel Office not to make the case fully public until January 20.
Google denies wrongdoing
Google's German spokesman Kay Oberbeck says the company is confident it has done nothing wrong.
"We are very willing to explain our products and business practices to the Cartel Office and show that we are convinced these are in line with German and European law," Oberbeck said.
Oberbeck added the company paid 4.2 billion euros ($6 billion) to publishers worldwide in 2009.
In Germany alone, Google earns close to 1.2 billion euros a year on ads placed next to regular search results.
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