The Mapmakers Petition

This could have also been labelled as from the files of "anti-trust is not about consumers."  Apparently, a mapmaker in France has successfully sued and won damages from Google for unfair competition, ie from providing Google Maps for free.

Just as in the Microsoft anti-trust case and just about every anti-trust case in history, companies who brought the suit are really trying to stop an up-start competitor from trashing their business model, but they have to couch this true concern in mumbled words about the consumer.  Specifically, they raise that ever-popular boogeyman of jacking up prices once the  monopoly is secured.  The next time this happens, of course, will be the first time.  Its a myth.  For example, in Google's case, left unsaid is how they would jack up their prices when at least two other companies (Bing, Mapquest) also provide mapping services online for free.

  • Evil Red Scandi

    They also fail to mention that these other companies have other avenues of making revenue (ads)from the mapping services. It's not like they're doing this at a loss - they just found a way to shift the cost burden from the consumer.

  • tomw

    Your refutation:
    Specifically, they raise that ever-popular boogeyman of jacking up prices once the monopoly is secured. The next time this happens, of course, will be the first time. Its a myth.

    See: MPAA and RIAA

    Try to purchase video or audio without running into either of those two organizations. They almost have a monopoly, so far, with few exceptions. You don't see the price of DVDs and CDs reflecting their significantly reduced manufacturing cost since the retirement of the video / audio tape formats. You still cannot buy the singles... must buy the album / collection.
    Note: DirectTV and DishNetwork are raising their prices, some caused by the sports groups, ESPN?, raising the amount they charge to sell their MONOPOLY output. I don't see professional sports ticket prices responding to the market, as their competition is limited. Recently, C-band distribution of satellite feeds to homeowners was discontinued. Dish and Direct are the only game in town for rural audiences, and they somehow seem to match each other in their monthly charges. Monopoly? Oligopoly? I dunno, but there is no competition when the cable company wants $1500 to run cable down your street, and then pay for monthly service...
    tom

  • steve

    "For example, in Google’s case, left unsaid is how they would jack up their prices when at least two other companies (Bing, Mapquest) also provide mapping services online for free."

    Well the first step before Google can jack up prices is to start lobbying heavily in Washington. Because, nothing short of an act of congress will make maps anything but free again.

  • ErisGuy

    France should be governed by France's xenophobic laws that punish Anglo-Saxon Capitalism. Wouldn't want France becoming a dog-eat-dog American society. France must remain civilized. Let them be governed as they wish. And if France is destroyed by its own choices, yeah!

  • Mesa Econoguy

    Ahoy, mateys, we in international waters and law and such don’t think too kindly upon the landlubbers and their silly little mapmakin tendencies.....

    What happens once we start a-stealin’ from yer GP and S satellites and such, yarrrrrgh.....

    YYYYYYAAAAAAAArrrgggghhh!!!!!

  • Slocum

    Perfect title!

  • lukas

    In fairness, this is about Google offering commercial users free usage of its maps for now, which adds a tiny sliver of semblance of merit to the case.

  • I Got Bupkis, Critic Extraordinaire

    They ARE French.

    I recall a case, pardon me if I misremember any elements, about 5-10 years back in which a Paris collective of housekeepers who formed a kind of co-op for mutual transportation benefit (i.e., a managed car pool) were sued and forced to desist by the Parisian mass-transit union.

    Right, they were stealing work from bus drivers... :-S

    The French are about as retarded as a people can be and not be from Greece, Italy, Spain, or Portugal. And in some ways even worse.

  • dave smith

    Lukas, why?

  • I Got Bupkis, Critic Extraordinaire

    >>> I dunno, but there is no competition when the cable company wants $1500 to run cable down your street, and then pay for monthly service…

    Historically, you are accurate, but this is slowly disappearing just as with the telephone monopoly as wireless providers become more and more ubiquitous.

    That's one reason why the MPAA and RIAA are so scared, as they are about to lose all hope of control over the internet itself.

    You can now get a vast array of TV services through the internet, and you can watch most ESPN programming through their web site. If you want a valid monopoly objection, make one about ESPN or some other network having an exclusive provider contract with an entire form of sports (NBA/NFL/NCAA, etc.) -- ESPN does have a paid service, for example.

  • I Got Bupkis, Critic Extraordinaire

    Dave: Although I don't agree with him, there is a sense of reason to it. Commercial users would be the ones to pay the French for their maps. This does not change the fact that excluding competition is the true purpose behind it, however.

  • http://www.tigerhawk.blogspot.com TigerHawk

    As I recall, there is actually a substantial philosophical difference between anti-trust law in Europe and in the United States. Here, the point really is to prevent collusion of one sort or another that might hurt the consumer. Most of the time, the FTC and the Justice Department really have approached it that way. The Europeans, however, are concerned about the effects of anti-competitive behavior (as they define it) on *competitors.* That is, protecting weak companies from strong ones is an explicit objective of European anti-trust law. In principle, at least, we Americans do not care about the survival of any particular company, as long as there remains at least the prospect of competition in the end.

  • I Got Bupkis, Critic Extraordinaire

    >>> as long as there remains at least the prospect of competition in the end.

    I dunno about you, but I don't want people competing to get at my end.
    :-D

  • lukas

    Dave, I do not agree with that logic, but at least that scenario falls under the classic definition of "predatory pricing." No one anticipates that Google will start charging for private use of their maps. But charging businesses for using Google Maps and the GMaps API is eminently reasonable (and Google does this in other markets IIRC).