Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Google Was 3 Hours Away From DOJ Antitrust Charges

CmdrTaco posted more than 5 years ago | from the not-evil-we-swear dept.

Google 221

turnkeylinux writes "Google Inc. and Yahoo! Inc. called off their joint advertising agreement just three hours before the Department of Justice planned to file antitrust charges to block the pact, according to the lawyer who would have been lead counsel for the government. 'We were going to file the complaint at a certain time during the day,' says Litvack, who rejoins Hogan & Hartson today. 'We told them we were going to file the complaint at that time of day. Three hours before, they told us they were abandoning the agreement.'"

cancel ×

221 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Could be fun (4, Interesting)

Xest (935314) | more than 5 years ago | (#25988381)

I can't help but think you could make a game of this.

Announce something to get the government's back up, wait until they've done loads and loads of preparation then rip their opportunity from under them just before they get chance.

The only downside is it's a waste of tax payers cash, not that most public sector jobs aren't a waste of tax payers cash anyway though.

Re:Could be fun (5, Insightful)

Roland Piquepaille (780675) | more than 5 years ago | (#25988417)

The only downside is it's a waste of tax payers cash, not that most public sector jobs aren't a waste of tax payers cash anyway though.

On the contrary, breaking up formed monopolies is a lot more expensive than preventing monopolies from forming in the first place.

(on a side note: for those who thought Google was any less predatory than Microsoft, think again...)

Re:Could be fun (5, Funny)

rlp (11898) | more than 5 years ago | (#25988487)

The only downside is it's a waste of tax payers cash

That does not appear to be a concern of anyone in Washington these days.

Re:Could be fun (5, Funny)

ari_j (90255) | more than 5 years ago | (#25988759)

These days? Just how new are you to this?

Re:Could be fun (2, Funny)

teslar (706653) | more than 5 years ago | (#25989359)

Just how new are you to this?

For him to use "these days" in that way evidently indicates that he meant it as opposed to the "good old days when dinosaurs ruled the world". So I guess he's been around for a while :)

Re:Could be fun (3, Funny)

lorenzo.boccaccia (1263310) | more than 5 years ago | (#25989433)

meh. not with all those freaking apatosaurus monopolizing highest trees.

Re:Could be fun (1, Interesting)

homer_s (799572) | more than 5 years ago | (#25988809)

Of course, that is assuming that there is some need to break up a 'monopoly' in the first place.

The other assumption is that there is a defined circle outside of which no competition takes place. Competition does not just exist within an industry; it exists across industries. The airlines have to compete with Webex. Google has to compete with NBC.

Re:Could be fun (5, Insightful)

dwarg (1352059) | more than 5 years ago | (#25990049)

Of course, that is assuming that there is some need to break up a 'monopoly' in the first place.

The sad thing is the proof of the need for antitrust laws has been staring us in the face for months now. Since the bailout of AIG how many times have we heard the phrase, "too big to fail." How many companies are now trying to convince us that they also are too big to fail? In effect these companies are telling us that they represent a single point of failure for the entire US economy.

The leftist view that we need to prop up these companies is completely wrong. The righties' hands-off approach to all things private inevitably leads to wild fluctuations as companies consolidate and dominate government and individual roles followed by epic collapses and rebuilding periods.

Those that worship at the alter of the free market either don't understand: 1. That competition is the heart of capitalism, or 2. Companies hate, and will suppress, competition because it cuts into profits.

The government should play a role in enforcing competition in a healthy market place. Too much government intervention leads to inefficiency and no government intervention leads to corruption. It is through the involvement of an INFORMED electorate that WE THE PEOPLE control how our government interacts with the private sector.

I say use the bailout money to break these companies up into more manageable and competitive pieces that, once established, will be made into private companies again.

Boiling your opinions down to oversimplifications like, "no government intervention ever!" is an excuse to remain uninformed and ignorant of what the problems actually are and will lead us away from any real solutions.

Both parties spend large sums of money on propaganda campaigns through right and left wing media outlets to convince us of the correctness of their oversimplified slogans and misrepresentations of the other side. If you believe them, know that you are being used.

Re:Could be fun (5, Insightful)

FireIron (838223) | more than 5 years ago | (#25989331)

So, let me see if I understand this...

Companies like GM and AIG were allowed to grow to the point where their possible failure threatens the entire national (world?) economy -- no questions from DOJ lawyers.

But Google and Yahoo want to pool their advertising resources, and suddenly the republic is threatened.

Mmm hmmm.

Re:Could be fun (1)

Xerolooper (1247258) | more than 5 years ago | (#25989517)

You are making the assumption that our Empire er... I mean Republic was actually ever threatened. Maybe you haven't noticed that after claiming the free world was at an end if we didn't borrow billions of dollars they decided that who we were supposed to bail out weren't the ones we needed to bail out.

Re:Could be fun (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25989721)

(on a side note: for those who thought Google was any less predatory than Microsoft, think again...)

Evidence please.

Re:Could be fun (2, Insightful)

MikeBabcock (65886) | more than 5 years ago | (#25989981)

You think that Microsoft would've backed down?

This is not predatory behaviour; they wanted to something, were told they shouldn't, and then backed down.

That's how I expect a good corporate citizen to behave.

Re:Could be fun (5, Funny)

Abstrackt (609015) | more than 5 years ago | (#25988429)

We could call the game "Antitrust Frogger". You start a merger and jump out of the way just before you get hit by the DOJ. I'm not sure what your reward would be for making it to the other side of the road though...

Re:Could be fun (5, Funny)

Farmer Pete (1350093) | more than 5 years ago | (#25988463)

The reward is always the same in these matters...Profit!

Re:Could be fun (2, Interesting)

camperdave (969942) | more than 5 years ago | (#25988515)

Announce something to get the government's back up, wait until they've done loads and loads of preparation then rip their opportunity from under them just before they get chance.

4. Access their research through Freedom of Information policies.
5. Devise ways of sidestepping their arguments.
6. Profit!!!

Re: confusion (1)

rs232 (849320) | more than 5 years ago | (#25989923)

You're confusing Serge with billg .. :>

Re:Could be fun (5, Insightful)

JanneM (7445) | more than 5 years ago | (#25988537)

Quite the opposite. The authorities were on the ball, gathered info and told the parties they'd likely be filing a formal complaint. The result: the putative monopoly was broken up almost before it began, with no damage to the marketplace and no long, hugely expensive trial and appeals that would have sucked money and energy from the state and the corporate parties alike. And the way they did it, if Google and Yahoo really thought they would win such a process they were still free to go ahead and face the consequences.

Sounds like the state did a pretty good job in this case.

Re:Could be fun (1)

thrillseeker (518224) | more than 5 years ago | (#25988727)

with no damage to the marketplace

except for that piddly little matter of Yahoo's stock price ...

Re:Could be fun (1)

STrinity (723872) | more than 5 years ago | (#25989987)

Yahoo isn't the marketplace, and the market isn't damaged when a company fails. In fact, failure is often good for the market, though you wouldn't know it listening to the Bush and Obama people.

Re:Could be fun (0, Troll)

kontos (560271) | more than 5 years ago | (#25988885)

Yeah, because all of that Due Process of the Law stuff is just a waste. It's better for the Gov't agents to just intimidate the private sector.

Re:Could be fun (4, Insightful)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 5 years ago | (#25988955)

...by threatening to prosecute them every time they announce they're going to do something illegal?

Why is it that on Slashdot giving people a cheap "out" of being prosecuted for something they'll almost certainly lose is considered worse than prosecuting the same people to the full extent of the law?

Re:Could be fun (1)

ejtttje (673126) | more than 5 years ago | (#25989679)

Oh come on, this isn't a black and white crime like assault or robbery. They were going to do something "questionable", the gov't said they're going to look into it, and companies decided it wasn't worth the controversy.

Besides, the partnership had just formed, you can't prosecute them for something they haven't done yet. This is basically the equivalent of asking a lawyer if something has legal risk before you do it, only on a corporate scale.

Re:Could be fun (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25989741)

... with no damage to the marketplace ...

Then what do you call the government denying Google and Yahoo (and by extension, their shareholders) the right to free association?

Re:Could be fun (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25988645)

..wait until they've done loads and loads of preparation then rip their opportunity from under them just before they get chance.

It's the microsoft way.

Re:Could be fun (1)

qoncept (599709) | more than 5 years ago | (#25988763)

The only downside is it's a waste of tax payers cash ...

That, and the fact that there is no up side. Doesn't sound like a very fun (or responsible) game to me.

Article Text (0, Redundant)

Smelly Jeffrey (583520) | more than 5 years ago | (#25988385)

The Talent

December 2, 2008 1:00 PM

Hogan's Litvack Discusses Google/Yahoo

Posted by Nate Raymond

Litvack Google Inc. and Yahoo! Inc. called off their joint advertising agreement just three hours before the Department of Justice planned to file antitrust charges to block the pact, according to the lawyer who would have been lead counsel for the government.

Sanford "Sandy" Litvack (right) left Hogan & Hartson in September to consult for the department's antitrust division on a possible court challenge to the Web giants' agreement. The companies abandoned the deal in November after the Justice Department informed them it would seek to block the deal.

"We were going to file the complaint at a certain time during the day," says Litvack, who rejoins Hogan & Hartson today. "We told them we were going to file the complaint at that time of day. Three hours before, they told us they were abandoning the agreement."

The agreement, announced in April, would have given Yahoo the ability to use Google to sell advertising along the side of Yahoo pages. (Google's ads would have replaced ads previously sold by Yahoo's own platform.) The proposal came amid Microsoft Corporation's $44.6 billion hostile takeover bid for Yahoo. Microsoft abandoned that deal a month after the proposed Google-Yahoo deal became public, and as the Department of Justice and state regulators began looking into the Google pact for possible antitrust violations.

The never-filed government complaint would have charged that the agreement violated Sections 1 and 2 of the Sherman Act, Litvack tells the Am Law Daily in one of his first interviews since the companies canned the venture. Section 1 bans agreements that restrain trade unreasonably. Section 2 makes it unlawful for a company to monopolize or attempt to monopolize trade.

"It would have ended up also alleging that Google had a monopoly and that [the advertising pact] would have furthered their monopoly," Litvack says.

The complaint would have sought a preliminary injunction to stop the agreement from going forward. "The fact that we filed a lawsuit would not by itself have stopped them," he says. "We would have had to get an injunction from the court, and we would have sought that."

Five firms were involved in the negotiations, Litvack says. Google was represented in the negotiations by Clearly Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton and Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati. Yahoo turned to Latham & Watkins, Hunton & Williams, and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom.

Litvack acknowledges that Microsoft Corporation and other companies lobbied the department to block the agreement, both publicly and and in private meetings. Litvack insists, though, that Microsoft's lobbying had no bearing on his recommended course of action or on the division's ultimate decision. Microsoft was represented by Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft.

The Department of Justice said in a November 5 press release that its investigation showed Google was "by far the largest provider" of Internet search and advertising, as well as Internet search syndication. The agreement with Yahoo, had it gone forward, would have accounted for 90 percent of those markets, the release said. Litvack says by publicizing Google's current market share in the press release the department "may or may not be" trying to put the company on notice for possible future antitrust actions.

"[The department is] making it clear to the parties and to the world that this is how the division viewed these particular aspects of Google's business," Litvack says. That said, Litvack says the change in administration may mean a shift in how the division handles future antitrust matters.

When the case closed November 5, Litvack says "there was some talk about my staying to do some other stuff, but I decided to come back" to Hogan & Hartson. He's happy to be back, he says, but does regret that he won't get to go to court in what would have been the highest-profile antitrust case in years.

"Of course I was looking forward to it," he says. "We felt pretty good about it, we felt pretty confident. Yeah, I would have liked to have done it."

Why doesn't... (1)

cosm (1072588) | more than 5 years ago | (#25988471)

The DOJ attempt to work with the companies to prevent monopolizing convergence, instead of litigating with them after the fact, causing the companies to lose money and overall hurting the corporate structure, employee salaries, wasting taxpayer dollars, ect...ect...

Free Market + Government Intervention & Punishment + Taxpayers Dollers = LOLFAILWHALE ECONOMY

Free Market + Government Suggestion & Aid + Taxpayer Dollers = Working Economy

Re:Why doesn't... (2, Insightful)

carbon 68k (309023) | more than 5 years ago | (#25988653)

Free Market + Government Intervention & Punishment + Taxpayers Dollers = LOLFAILWHALE ECONOMY

Free Market + Government Suggestion & Aid + Taxpayer Dollers = Working Economy

A "hey, we're probably going to have to sue you if you do this" seems equally like "suggestion" to me. This is part of how the contours of what's permissible and what's not get drawn, and companies in the future will look at this and say "Google and Yahoo went this far, but got warned off. To what extent is our deal like that one?"

Re:Why doesn't... (1)

Talderas (1212466) | more than 5 years ago | (#25988943)

Isn't aid a form of intervention?

Re:Why doesn't... (1)

db32 (862117) | more than 5 years ago | (#25989163)

I assume you mean how Bush implemented voluntary pollution control measures in his state and none of the big polluters actually did anything and then continued to benefit from government dollars. Yup...totally a Working Economy there.

However, ending slavery, ending Company Towns, worker protection and safety laws are all government intervention and punishment that actually made things better.

I'm not sure if you live in free market fantasy land or are a shill for Bush policies, but either way the government intervention & punishment is the only thing that really works. The problem is we have allowed the corporations to buy off enough of the government to manipulate the game and rules far too much and the government gets involved in WAY too much bullshit that it has no business meddling with.

Re:Why doesn't... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25989457)

Intervention is intervention no matter what form it takes. We'd all be better off if the government would just stay the hell out of it.

The DOJ won't help (5, Insightful)

Thelasko (1196535) | more than 5 years ago | (#25988513)

The way I see it, two things could happen:
1. Google and Yahoo could partner, leading to a monopoly.
2. Yahoo will go out of business, leading to a monopoly.
There is no way to prevent a monopoly.

Re:The DOJ won't help (4, Insightful)

krou (1027572) | more than 5 years ago | (#25988591)

The third option is if Yahoo and Microsoft team up, in which case there is a slim chance that it could counter Google's search monopoly.

Re:The DOJ won't help (2, Interesting)

MosesJones (55544) | more than 5 years ago | (#25989811)

So the third option is

3. Have Yahoo team up with an already convicted monopoly (MS) to help stop Google becoming an monopoly

Making MS stronger doesn't exactly help the consumer or do anything to weaken MS' already existing monopoly on the desktop (as found by the previous DoJ investigation).

Rock, Hard place, Alaska in February

Re:The DOJ won't help (2, Insightful)

N1AK (864906) | more than 5 years ago | (#25988599)

I appreciate the point you are trying to get at, but your arguement is flawed.

If Google got hold of Yahoo a company with market dominance to form a Monopoly WILL be formed.

If they don't merge, and IF Yahoo go under, and IF Yahoo isn't bought out by Microsoft or a less obvious Internet competitor (News Corp? Facebook? etc) who continue it and finally IF all Yahoo users choose to migrate to Google, then you would have a Monopoly.

I accept it could be argued both situations may well lead to the same situation, but the odds would be quite different.

Re:The DOJ won't help (2, Insightful)

nschubach (922175) | more than 5 years ago | (#25988881)

Also, Google doesn't provide a proprietary service by any means. You don't NEED www.google.com to do your job, open your documents, or run your applications. At least, not right now.

At any point in time, someone else could create a better search algorithm and steal users away from Google's search, ads, and possibly email. (Though I kind of wish some free services like Bigfoot.com would have stayed around as a mail redirector so you could change mail providers on a whim. [Disclaimer: I haven't checked in a while.])

Re:The DOJ won't help (1)

MasterOfMagic (151058) | more than 5 years ago | (#25989421)

GMail lets you forward all mail received to another account, with options to keep copies in your GMail account, archive copies in your GMail account (so they don't appear as new if you sign in to the web interface), or delete copies in your GMail account. They also don't forward spam messages.

It's a great way to have a consistent email account that gets forwarded to a more personal account. Of course, you can also get your GMail with POP or IMAP if that's your desire.

Re:The DOJ won't help (3, Insightful)

webreaper (1313213) | more than 5 years ago | (#25988629)

Erm, it's already a monopoly. Does anyone actually use Yahoo? :)

Re:The DOJ won't help (1)

Kelbear (870538) | more than 5 years ago | (#25989295)

It's more popular in Asia than the US.

Re:The DOJ won't help (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 5 years ago | (#25989361)

I use Yahoo search sometimes when google's search doesn't give me what I want (sometimes it doesn't). Microsoft's search isn't that bad either.

I use Yahoo mail and Yahoo messenger too every now and then.

I have a gmail account but I rarely use it.

As long as Yahoo and MS's search engines are around, Google search isn't a monopoly at all.

Re:The DOJ won't help (1)

Fallingcow (213461) | more than 5 years ago | (#25989623)

I use Yahoo Yellow Pages sometimes.

It's the only time I ever visit Yahoo, though, and that's maybe once a month or less.

Re:The DOJ won't help (1)

GMonkeyLouie (1372035) | more than 5 years ago | (#25988651)

I wouldn't really call a Google + Yahoo collaboration a monopoly. There are still plenty of search engines out there, and nothing about using Google or Yahoo (or any of their numerous holdings) prevents people from easily switching to other sites' services, or dividing their time between multiple sites. It's not like either Google or Yahoo provide a unique, patented service that others can't imitate - it seems to me to be a matter of time before someone perfects a suite of online utilities/applications that work together well enough to steal giant portions of Google's market share. Google may have an advantage from the outset, but I don't think its insurmountable even assuming no market-altering technological advances.

I'm sure antitrust has more purpose than just "prevent monopoly" but Google does not seem like an appropriate target for antitrust suits, even if they do acquire Yahoo.

Re:The DOJ won't help (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25988691)

There might be an exit to this:
Somebody could accidentally create a computer program that becomes self-aware, infects every other computer and replaces Google.

Re:The DOJ won't help (1)

TorKlingberg (599697) | more than 5 years ago | (#25988965)

Why do you think Yahoo would go out of business? It may not be Slashdotters first choice, but a lot of people use Yahoo and are happy with it.

Re:The DOJ won't help (1)

staryc (852301) | more than 5 years ago | (#25988987)

The way I see it, two things could happen: 1. Google and Yahoo could partner, leading to a monopoly. 2. Yahoo will go out of business, leading to a monopoly. There is no way to prevent a monopoly.

The New York Times recently reported Jonathan Miller, the former chief executive of AOL, attempting to raise $30 billion to buy Yahoo. It seems that there are a few places this could go; albeit, very unlikely.

Re:The DOJ won't help (1)

MindlessAutomata (1282944) | more than 5 years ago | (#25988995)

There is. Come out with something better than Google. Not gonna happen? Tough. Suck it up, it's not like we even pay for the services Google provides (well, most of them).

The average consumer is a spoiled brat. Yeah, I just took a swing at the Middle Class, tar and feather me. In my world, you have no right to Google's servers or services, and if they are too good at providing it, then it's your own damn fault for letting it happen and for letting it continue to happen. Nobody wants responsibility.

There is a third option (4, Funny)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 5 years ago | (#25989385)

I prefer a third option. Here goes:

Yahoo, in a desperate bid to get MS's attention, hires actress Natalie Portman to seduce me to enlist my help in the matter. After hours of outrageous sex, including several acts involving grits, she convinces me to help. I go over to Bill Gates' house to resell him on the idea of a Yahoo/MS merger. Gates, grateful for my help and insight in the matter, agrees to call Ballmer up and talk to him about it, gives me a $2 million tip, and lets me take hom the biggest TV in his house. The next day, after another night of crazy mad oily sex with Natalie Portman, I meet up with Ballmer and Yang at Yahoo HQ. I make them apologize to one another, secure the deal to create a new search engine giant to compete with Google (called "MiYahoo"), get a nice portfolio of stock in the new company, then leave to go rent a goat and a midget for another night of insane smelly filthy sex with Natalie Portman.

Problem solved.

Re:There is a third option (4, Funny)

Toll_Free (1295136) | more than 5 years ago | (#25989941)

I read this as

After hours of pointless masturbation, I ate my body weight in grits

Then I reread it, and my mind babelfished it the same way.

Anyone else have that problem? :)

--Toll_Free

Re:There is a third option (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 5 years ago | (#25989999)

pointless masturbation

That, sir, is an oxymoron.

Re:The DOJ won't help (1)

Toll_Free (1295136) | more than 5 years ago | (#25989897)

Yup, that's pretty much Capitalism.

Eventually, you end up with a monopoly, when one company provides a product an order of magnitudes better than another.

I was an ardent Yahoo user until about 2003, and then switched to Google. Pretty much when I got a :beta: email account on GMail. Yahoo = megabytes of storage and Google gave me a gig. Then, once I started using them, I found their search to be SO much better.

Yahoo had it in the early to late 90s. Now it's Googles game. And ANY Corp. entity MUST act like a Corp. entity (make them shareholders some cash), so it should come as ZERO surprise when Google starts to act like a company..... ie, out for profit.

But, if Yahoo would have offered something similiar (to GMail at the time), I never would have experienced Google's superior search engine. Had Yahoo had a better search engine, I might have stuck with them and then played out with them.

Google just gave us something better, for a better price. Goodbuy (pun intended) Yahoo.

--Toll_Free

Where did it go? (0)

i_ate_god (899684) | more than 5 years ago | (#25988633)

The free market that is...

Re:Where did it go? (1)

bigmouth_strikes (224629) | more than 5 years ago | (#25988715)

The free market relies on companies not becoming monopolies.

Re:Where did it go? (0, Troll)

miffo.swe (547642) | more than 5 years ago | (#25988771)

Except if thy name is Microsoft, then its just ok.

Re:Where did it go? (1)

i_ate_god (899684) | more than 5 years ago | (#25988793)

Monopolies happen if no one else can compete and is part of the free market system. Yahoo can't compete.

So if Yahoo goes, what happens then? Google's market share will only increase as a result. I don't see the difference here.

Re:Where did it go? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25989347)

Microsoft could always buy up Yahoo, thus saving us from the massive monolithic search/ad/web services monster known as Google.

Please save us, Bill!

Re:Where did it go? (4, Insightful)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 5 years ago | (#25988851)

The free market relies on companies not becoming monopolies.

Not quite. The free market relies on companies not *leveraging* their monopolies.

Re:Where did it go? (0, Troll)

LandDolphin (1202876) | more than 5 years ago | (#25988983)

Isn't that prrof that the Free Market System does not work without Government regualtion?

Re:Where did it go? (1)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 5 years ago | (#25989233)

I couldn't agree more. :) I'm just saying that monopolies, in and of themselves, aren't evil (hence why, in this case, I think the DoJ was being overzealous... without evidence that Google was planning to leverage that monopoly, there was nothing actually wrong going on (yet)).

Re:Where did it go? (4, Insightful)

deraj123 (1225722) | more than 5 years ago | (#25989325)

It's proof that Government intervention is required in order to maintain a free market. The free market also relies on a voluntary exchange of goods or services - which requires government "regulation" to prevent theft and other involuntary exchange. Government is also needed to provide things such as tort resolution and contract enforcement.

Re:Where did it go? (1)

brian0918 (638904) | more than 5 years ago | (#25989831)

The free market also relies on a voluntary exchange of goods or services - which requires government "regulation" to prevent theft and other involuntary exchange. Government is also needed to provide things such as tort resolution and contract enforcement.

Of course. A force-backed entity is always necessary in order to punish theft and other violations of individual rights. That is quite different from the discussion at hand however. These people imagine they have a right to Google's search engine, and if Google starts to voluntarily buy up other search engines (who ALSO voluntarily sell to Google), and then decides they want to flood their site with huge flash ads, and sell out the top 10 search results to the highest bidder, these people would demand the government intervene to destroy this monopoly. Such an action by the government could only mean one thing: violating the rights of each and every Google employee to do with their property and product as they decide. There is no right to a search engine. If a monopoly's services are bad enough, a second service provider will naturally emerge to provide better service. The only thing that could prevent such an emergence is force, and the only force-backed entity in the US is the government.

Re:Where did it go? (2, Insightful)

Cowmonaut (989226) | more than 5 years ago | (#25989443)

The American idea of "Free Market" is kind of like "Free Software". Basically the goal is to have everyone play nice and have an equal chance to contribute and so on. Nothing about that precludes government regulations. SOME people insist you should have an "anarchic market" and then go around calling it "free".

Fact is, people need rules. They're a fundamental part of society once you go beyond a certain population size. Without them you get anarchy, which is only bad when there are bad people. If everyone just loved everyone else then we'd be peachy. But then you get stupid things like wars based on race, religion, ideals, or just flat out greed. That's reality. That's life.

Some think you can change it, but they're delusional. Unless you are willing to trample over someone's rights and reprogram them (which to me the idea is worse than rape, though not by much) you are going to have people that will just see that as weakness and, like a predator, act accordingly.

The real trick in my opinion is to have AS FEW laws/regulations as possible. The US started out pretty damn well like that but has been slowly corrupted over the years. I'm fairly certain the Founding Fathers would be among those that speculate a revolution or civil war in the US within the next 100 years. Considering the level of military might the US has, that is a pretty damn scary thought.

Re:Where did it go? (1)

johneee (626549) | more than 5 years ago | (#25989131)

No, the "Free Market" doesn't care one way or another, by its very definition, about monopolies, or fairness, or the rights of consumers, or anything else like that.

Which is why I, and many other people, think that some intervention on the free market is a good thing so that the consumers don't get boned. The discussion then just becomes how much, when and where that intervention happens

Re:Where did it go? (4, Insightful)

Kelbear (870538) | more than 5 years ago | (#25989425)

Something that is often forgotten is that the free market is NOT a natural phenomenon. When left to their own devices, the businesses will try to fuck the consumer, and the consumer who has virtually no individual power, will seek consumer rights via collective bargaining, eventually forming large concerted organizations that will act against the interests of the business. In other words, there are checks and balances in play, and the government's part in regulating the economy was created as a check against businesses seeking to overpower the public.

There are few if any free markets in the world for a good reason. They don't work. If you want to find a free market, you can look towards Somalia, no government interference there.

Re:Where did it go? (1)

brian0918 (638904) | more than 5 years ago | (#25989725)

When left to their own devices, the businesses will try to fuck the consumer

That would be dumb of them. Don't those employees have any interest in keeping their jobs and putting food on the table? How can they stay in business if they screw over their customers. What stops a customer from switching to another service provider?

and the consumer who has virtually no individual power

Their wallets are all the power they need. Don't like a company? Pick another? If another doesn't exist, persuade everyone you know to demand better service and another company will come along to provide that service (if the demand is high enough, of course).

Re:Where did it go? (4, Insightful)

MikeBabcock (65886) | more than 5 years ago | (#25990029)

You might think it would be dumb, but if you're providing something like an Operating System for computers everyone buys, who cares if you provide what the consumer wants or not when you can essentially force them to purchase it anyway?

People who believe in truly free markets often ignore the barrier to entry for competition. Competition is not a given, and competition may be essentially impossible under some circumstances (the local telco's owning all the copper and poles and rights thereto and new competition not having the right to erect new poles).

Re:Where did it go? (2, Insightful)

theelectron (973857) | more than 5 years ago | (#25990063)

You forget entirely about price collusion. When everyone is screwing the customer, what business can customers turn to?

Re:Where did it go? (1)

knails (915340) | more than 5 years ago | (#25989615)

But the point of the Free Market economics is that if the consumer is getting boned, it's his responsibility to do something about it if he wants change.

If you want something done right, do it yourself.

Re:Where did it go? (1)

brian0918 (638904) | more than 5 years ago | (#25989663)

The free market relies on companies not *leveraging* their monopolies.

Not quite. The free market relies on governments not propping up monopolies. Until politicians decide to stop heeding special interests, destructive monopolies (e.g. telecom) will continue to thrive. The free market does not guarantee that monopolies won't exist at any given time, but it does guarantee that if the monopoly's services are poor enough, the demand for better service will be so great that better service will be provided, by another company if necessary. Only when a force-backed entity comes in and prevents another company from providing competing service, or implements selective restrictions on competition (e.g. taxes / tax breaks), does an unjust monopoly exist. To my knowledge the only force-backed entity in the US is the government.

Re:Where did it go? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25989787)

which is right. see, it's not that someone has a gun to your head. it's only an issue if they pull the trigger by applying the proper leverage.

Re:Where did it go? (1)

MindlessAutomata (1282944) | more than 5 years ago | (#25988931)

This is

Since when did "monopoly" in any given field or industry mean "getting an even larger market share?"

Google is *already* a monopoly if you use this twisted, perverted definition. I can't wait until the left starts arguing that Google is too big, that we need search engine competition, and demands they be broken up for being too good at what they do.

The same people that say a free market needs an X amount of competition (where X is whatever appeals to their gut on that time of the day) betray a free market by limiting success or otherwise interfering with it. What the hell is a "free market" supposed to be if you're just going to knock down the king of the hill eventually? That's *not* a free market, whether you like free markets or not. A free market is a market without government interference, not some mystical "my perfect li'l market" fantasy.

Re:Where did it go? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25989083)

No, a truly free market would never create a monopoly. With no government barriers to entry in the market, people would be chomping at the bit to go into business themselves.

Re:Where did it go? (1)

Fallingcow (213461) | more than 5 years ago | (#25989691)

Yes, I'm sure government barriers are the reason monopolies form in a market system with limited resources.

*eye roll*

Re:Where did it go? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25988777)

It got broken up and sold in pieces, didn't you get the memo?

Re:Where did it go? (4, Interesting)

digitig (1056110) | more than 5 years ago | (#25988967)

The free market that is...

It has never existed, and hopefully never will. Its only advantage is doctrinal purity for some economists who don't like dealing with the messiness of the real world. There would be no advantages for any society that implemented it, and significant disadvantages because it has no effective way of managing the many cases where the cost of an action is not borne by those who benefit from the action. Mixed economies are the only pragmatic economies; the real debate is just over what the precise mix should be.

They'll have problems from now on. (4, Insightful)

Samschnooks (1415697) | more than 5 years ago | (#25988667)

Any business transaction that Google may try to do will be under scrutiny. They are the: Coke, Kleenex, Jell-O, Sheetrock, Skillsaw, etc... of the internet. A brand name that is also a name for a type of product - a marketer's wet dream.

Re:They'll have problems from now on. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25989239)

Didn't work out so well for Hoover, though.

Re:They'll have problems from now on. (2, Interesting)

molotovjester (1273662) | more than 5 years ago | (#25989895)

Yes and no -

Marketing a product that has so much brand recognition that you can spend/focus less on brand awareness and more on getting customers in the door is wonderful (and much more quantifiable).

But when your brand name or product becomes synonymous with the type of product itself, then, in the case of a Q-Tip, your product name no longer sells itself, but instead sells every cotton swab in the industry.

so much for the free market (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25988679)

Remeber all this government interference when someone again acuses free markets.

Shouldn't of done it anyways... (1)

amclay (1356377) | more than 5 years ago | (#25988685)

There's really two sides to the issue. Jerry Yang was being an idiot by not realizing that Yahoo needed to team up with someone else (MS) if they were to continue being competitive. Secondly, Google failed to realize early that teaming up with the second largest PPC advertiser wouldn't draw HUGE notices from anti-monopoly watchers. I personally think that it was a stupid idea of Google to even suggest it. Even though it never went through and they didn't get charges, as a consumer of their products (both as a webmaster and a searcher) I don't want them to become what they have stated they wouldn't - "evil." Thats my two cents.

Re:Shouldn't of done it anyways... (1)

Diss Champ (934796) | more than 5 years ago | (#25988899)

While the deal had merit for Google on its own merits, giving Yahoo an alternative to MS was an excellent move.

Funny thing here is that its MS buying Yahoo that as a regulator I'd be more inclined to block, given MS's history (and convictions) for poor behavior, but given MS's pull in the current govt I expect instead MS will get Yahoo cheap after pretending they don't want them any more for a while.

And then MS will screw up the useful parts of Yahoo and wind up without a benefit.

Why would Google acquire that dinosaur? (3, Interesting)

GMonkeyLouie (1372035) | more than 5 years ago | (#25988741)

Honestly, if I were Google, I would only be trying to buy Yahoo for Flickr, which seems extremely synergistic with Google's current offerings.

Yahoo's search tech is archaic and inferior, Yahoo's e-mail is not up to par with GMail, and most Yahoo site features are irrelevant and poorly executed on their site.

Both sites have a daily reach of about 30%, maybe they just want to make Yahoo.com redirect straight to Google. That would be good for a laugh and some ad revenue.

Re:Why would Google acquire that dinosaur? (2)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 5 years ago | (#25988935)

Google was never going to purchase Yahoo. Google was going to infuse Yahoo with money for a partnered search deal to protect Yahoo from Microsoft, but the DoJ thought that was practically a monopoly, while the DoJ thought it would be great if Microsoft BOUGHT Yahoo, and that wouldn't be a monopoly.

Re:Why would Google acquire that dinosaur? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25989693)

Look at the search market share to see why.

a combined Yahoo-google alliance would have control around 80% of the market. (google holds around 60-80%, yahoo around 10-15% depending on the source)

A Yahoo-Microsoft deal would only control around 20-30% of the market share, still short of what google already has and thus the DOJ would view MS in this area as making itself more competitive.

A very diverse company like MS is treated as though it was sepperate companies, their monopoly in one area does not impact or affect their status in another. Their desktop monopoly does not give them any leverage here so it doesn't apply or affect their decision.

Re:Why would Google acquire that dinosaur? (1)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 5 years ago | (#25990045)

Normally I never respond to ACs, but you bring up a point worth responding to.

Google's share is around 70% given September's reports. Microsoft and Yahoo make up basically 30%.

A partnership is not the same as one company controlling both. Yahoo wouldn't control Google's search market, and Google wouldn't fully control Yahoo's search market. It is a partnership.

Regardless, 90% market share, while appearing dominant is far less of a monopoly as Microsoft's monopoly for 20 plus years in a variety of markets. Had Microsoft bought Yahoo, they'd be removing competition in several markets, and they have repeatedly demonstrated anti-competitive practices. They abuse market share in any market they enter.

Google has not abused market share. Wake me up when Google goes out of their way to stop Google products and services from working properly on a Microsoft platform to force some sort of proprietary-Google-vendor-lock-in.

My guess is that Microsoft is bribing someone at the DoJ to ignore Microsoft's actions while focusing heavily on stopping Google.

I understand concern over Google partnering with Yahoo. It is a valid concern, but not in the context that Microsoft should get carte-blanche in a similar situation.

Re:Why would Google acquire that dinosaur? (1)

jeffbruce (166203) | more than 5 years ago | (#25989549)

You should be assessed a -5 for using synergistic. This is Slashdot, not office bingo.

Re:Why would Google acquire that dinosaur? (1)

MikeBabcock (65886) | more than 5 years ago | (#25990051)

You should be assessed -5 pedantic for ignoring that the poster used the word correctly and that good usage overrides common parlance.

Microsoft (0)

MindlessAutomata (1282944) | more than 5 years ago | (#25988889)

Why did the DOJ call off the attack on Microsoft, yet decide to go after Google and Yahoo on this...? Microsoft is a much bigger "monopoly" than either of the two and effects a much more crucial market.

I guess someone didn't donate enough to the Bush administration...?

Re:Microsoft (3, Informative)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 5 years ago | (#25988919)

And it isn't like Microsoft doesn't have a dog in the search business.

Re:Microsoft (0, Redundant)

MindlessAutomata (1282944) | more than 5 years ago | (#25988953)

Very good point.

Re:Microsoft (3, Interesting)

starfishsystems (834319) | more than 5 years ago | (#25989071)

Might be to advance the perception of fairness, nobody is immune, let the courts decide, stuff like that.

And actually, in the long run, that may bring out the best. The difference may be subtle, but I see a difference in how Google and Yahoo responded here in comparison to how Microsoft has historically responded to such moves. Google and Yahoo respectfully withdrew once it became certain that they were on a collision course with public authority. I believe the record is abundantly clear that in cases of conflict with public interest, Microsoft, historically, has pushed ahead with its agenda to the fullest extent possible, sometimes (as in the EU antitrust case for example) past the point where legal avenues have been exhausted.

Correct me if I'm wrong, and watch for changes in this distinction, but I'd like to think that in the long run a pattern will become evident in which corporations that play fair are rewarded and those which don't lose the advantage.

Re:Microsoft (1)

brian0918 (638904) | more than 5 years ago | (#25989369)

Why did the DOJ call off the attack on Microsoft, yet decide to go after Google and Yahoo on this...?

For the same reason the government does anything. Whim. Political pull. Don't try to make sense of it.

Re:Microsoft (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25989857)

Microsoft doesn't hold a monopoly in search and can not leverage their existing monopoly here so the fact they have a monopoly doesn't apply at all.

This would be like having a monopoly on selling Fords and then doing something with swimming pools. just because you control one thing doesn't mean it has any pertinance on the other.

You could argue it gives them access to more money but its no different than a VC funding.

Re:Microsoft (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25989951)

Why are you so sure that the DOJ wouldn't have called off this one as well a few years into the suit? You can't say they're treated differently if there exists a likely scenario in which things would be the same.

What's his name (2, Interesting)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 5 years ago | (#25988969)

Who was the douche that threw his company under the bus, calling out Yang and saying Yahoo was stupid for not immediately selling out to Microsoft? He didn't care about the future of Yahoo as a company. He wanted a quick payout of his stock. He threw a fit, started a huge fight with the board, made Yahoo look bad, and not only is the future of Yahoo in question, but his own stock has plummeted. Now a Microsoft deal may happen, but for far less. The bitching caused the stockholders to lose their ass, and their company. I say that is a job well done.

Re:What's his name (3, Informative)

snspdaarf (1314399) | more than 5 years ago | (#25989195)

I believe the douche you are looking for is Carl Icahn.

Re:What's his name (1)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 5 years ago | (#25989719)

Yep, that would be him. Thanks.

Horribly misleading units (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25989027)

Come up with the most obscure thing you can think of, the beginning date of the ancient egyptian calendar, say. Search for it. Note that google generated HALF A MILLION hits in ONE FIFTH OF ONE SECOND. And that's an obscure slow query. Divide that 3 hours into .2 second chunks (54,000 in all) and you'll realize that at google speed this wasn't exactly a close call.

Correction (2, Funny)

brian0918 (638904) | more than 5 years ago | (#25989461)

DOJ Was 3 Hours Away From Violating Google's Rights

There, fixed that for ya.

antitrust .. (1)

rs232 (849320) | more than 5 years ago | (#25989809)

So when Microsoft eventually mops up Yahoos' 361 patent, that won't be an antitrust violation ?

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?