Remedies Proposed in the Google Antitrust Inquiry: New Paper

On Wednesday, May 16, I will be speaking at an academic conference on competition, search, and social media. The list of speakers is impressive and it promises to be a great conference. I will speak on the panel regarding remedies.

In anticipation of the conference, many speakers wrote papers on the subjects of antitrust, search, and social media. With my former student (and now colleague) Luke Pelican, I wrote an article analyzing the many remedies proposed by companies that have sought antitrust inquiries of Google’s practices. Because these competitors have proposed over a dozen remedies, we had to categorize the remedies in five general categories and evaluate them all. It’s not light reading, but we hope it contributes to the debate.

Here is a link to a PDF of the article.

Here is a paragraph from the article that conveys our top-level conclusion:

This article concludes that the cures proposed by the competitors are worse than Google’s alleged disease. The proposed remedies might benefit the short-term economic interests of Google’s competitors that are members of FairSearch and ICOMP, but benefiting competitors is not the goal of antitrust law. The goal of antitrust law is to promote consumer welfare, competition, and innovation. The proposed remedies, however, would do the opposite: harm consumers, impede competition, and stifle innovation. The remedies would invite government agencies and technical committees to second-guess and evaluate both mundane and game-changing engineering and user-interface decisions regarding Google Search, reverse long-standing fair use principles rooted in constitutional requirements, and empower competitors to litigate rather than compete against daily innovations and disclosures by Google.

We discussed one of the proposed remedies, regarding copyright, a few days ago on this blog.

The article is to be published today by the Journal of Internet Law. Google funded our work on the paper, though the paper does not necessarily reflect Google’s position. That company is a client of our firm on a range of issues.

It’s also an honor (and, for us, fun) to participate in these crucial debates alongside such great thinkers. A few months ago, I released a First Amendment analysis of SOPA and PIPA alongside a parallel analysis by Harvard professor Laurence Tribe, he on behalf of the Consumer Electronics Association and I for Google. Today, our article follows on the heels of a paper by UCLA professor Eugene Volokh (I would dissent from part of his analysis), both of which were funded by Google. Even though Google has the most interest in these issues today, the precedents we set today will influence the competitive landscape for years to come.

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