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Google France Sued by Bottin Cartographes for Providing Free Map Services...

by TheStatutoryApe
Tags: bottin, cartographes, france, free, google, providing, services, sued
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TheStatutoryApe
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Feb3-12, 07:52 AM
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So this is an interesting story....
A French Court this week ordered Google to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages to a French mapping company for stifling competition by offering its Google Maps service for free.

Bottin Cartographes, which offers map services to businesses for a cost, filed an unfair competition complaint against Google France and its parent company Google, arguing the Web giant was engaging in anticompetitive practices by providing free mapping services. The Paris court on Tuesday upheld the compliant, ordering Google to pay 500,000 Euros ($660,000) in damages and interest to Bottin Cartographes along with a 15,000 ($20,000) Euro fine, according to an AFP report.

The ruling was the culmination of a two-year legal battle for Bottin Cartographes.

continued...
Unfortunately all the articles I have seen seem to be based on the same AFP article and the AFP article is rather lacking in information. Add to that my lack of french and I am having a hard time answering some questions.

I was discussing this on another forum and several people there asserted that the issue was not the use of the standard Google Maps but rather the "Business" version (Google Maps API Premier) which normally goes for a starting price of $10,000 a year. That would certainly seem to show a more nefarious action on Google's part to attempt to under cut its competition and put them out of business so it can go back to selling the product for $10,000 a year. The problem is that there are not any articles I can find that actually state this is the service they are offering for free and the persons making these assertions had no sources to back them up.

I did my own searching and wound up finding this article which states Google has offered, and still does to a limited extent, free basic Google Apps services to businesses. Since 2007, when they began their Premier services, they have been placing limits on free use by businesses. As of April of last year they went from allowing 50 free user accounts per business to 10. Note that the court battle in the article above has been going on for about two years. I am currently operating on the assumption that this is the service that Bottin Cartographes is suing over. Free service that normally costs $10,000 a year does not seem to make much sense, though I suppose it is possible. And the assumption that they are suing over Google Maps being free in general also seems unlikely. The particular free service described in the second article also shows a pattern of Google beginning to charge for the services it once offered for free which follows the logic of the law suit. If any one can clear this up I would appreciate it, thank you.


In the mean time what do the rest of you think about this?
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Ryan_m_b
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Feb3-12, 07:58 AM
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I have no real opinion over the legality of selling the business version because I had no idea google even did that. I don't even understand what one would get for $10,000 per year compared to just using google maps! What on Earth could make these maps so much better that they are worth that much per year verses to the free versions everyone has (and not just from google)?

EDIT: Slightly off topic but the comments in that article baffle me. People are blaming French socialism for this move surely this is a perfect example of crony capitalism if anything.
Moonbear
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Feb3-12, 08:06 AM
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Maybe the paid version doesn't give directions through farm fields where roads were going to get built and didn't, or over cliffs where bridges washed out, and no driving route through the Atlantic or Pacific Oceans?

Jimmy Snyder
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Feb3-12, 08:42 AM
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Google France Sued by Bottin Cartographes for Providing Free Map Services...

So that's why gas stations stopped giving out free maps?
TheStatutoryApe
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Feb3-12, 08:55 AM
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Quote Quote by Ryan_m_b View Post
I have no real opinion over the legality of selling the business version because I had no idea google even did that. I don't even understand what one would get for $10,000 per year compared to just using google maps! What on Earth could make these maps so much better that they are worth that much per year verses to the free versions everyone has (and not just from google)?

EDIT: Slightly off topic but the comments in that article baffle me. People are blaming French socialism for this move surely this is a perfect example of crony capitalism if anything.
Its not the legality of selling the business version but the legality of giving the product away for free theoretically for the purpose of undercutting the competition to put them out of business and then start charging inflated prices once one has cornered the market. And this sort of goes to your edit comment. Its market regulation which is technically a "socialist" practice, though it doesn't make the country socialist in itself really. I think most of those people probably think the suit is over general use Google Maps and so figure it must be "socialism" run amok into absurdity.

Any way, google charges for business accounts with over 10 users, $5 per month per user or $50 per year per user. I figure if you are running a major corporation with thousands of employees using google maps (a courier service maybe?) then $10,000 is probably cheaper. Apparently it also allows for tracking of user devices which would allow a supervisor to keep tabs on employees. Here is a comparison of the services received by free users vs paid.
Greg Bernhardt
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Feb3-12, 10:06 AM
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Quote Quote by Ryan_m_b View Post
I don't even understand what one would get for $10,000 per year compared to just using google maps! What on Earth could make these maps so much better that they are worth that much per year verses to the free versions everyone has (and not just from google)?
I'm pretty sure there are hit caps on the free API.
Jimmy Snyder
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Feb3-12, 10:11 AM
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Quote Quote by Greg Bernhardt View Post
I'm pretty sure there are hit caps on the free API.
That could be it. I know Cisco puts hub caps on its routers.
Ryan_m_b
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Feb3-12, 12:42 PM
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It seems that France has done this sort of thing before; they've fined Amazon for offering free book delivery because it undercuts French book sellers
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/14/te...4.9204272.html
Moonbear
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Feb3-12, 05:22 PM
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Quote Quote by Ryan_m_b View Post
It seems that France has done this sort of thing before; they've fined Amazon for offering free book delivery because it undercuts French book sellers
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/14/te...4.9204272.html
I wonder if they earn enough that the fines are trivial? Otherwise, you'd think internet businesses might start blocking access from French domains if they're more trouble than they're worth. Then again, if the way to stay out of trouble is to charge the French more for everything, that's an easy resolution for a company to agree to.
TheStatutoryApe
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Feb3-12, 10:04 PM
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Quote Quote by Moonbear View Post
I wonder if they earn enough that the fines are trivial? Otherwise, you'd think internet businesses might start blocking access from French domains if they're more trouble than they're worth. Then again, if the way to stay out of trouble is to charge the French more for everything, that's an easy resolution for a company to agree to.
From what I understand european countries tend to be less litigious and the sums awarded in court decisions tend to be much smaller. If they are prepared to deal with multimillion dollar law suits in the US then the much smaller costs in places like France are probably not a big deal.
Ryan_m_b
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Feb4-12, 08:36 AM
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Quote Quote by Moonbear View Post
I wonder if they earn enough that the fines are trivial? Otherwise, you'd think internet businesses might start blocking access from French domains if they're more trouble than they're worth. Then again, if the way to stay out of trouble is to charge the French more for everything, that's an easy resolution for a company to agree to.
Quote Quote by TheStatutoryApe View Post
From what I understand european countries tend to be less litigious and the sums awarded in court decisions tend to be much smaller. If they are prepared to deal with multimillion dollar law suits in the US then the much smaller costs in places like France are probably not a big deal.
Indeed, sometimes in places like France a fine is a symbolic gesture similar to a warning on PF though public. For instance when John Galliano was recorded being drunk and anti-semetic he was fined one euro (though did have to separately pay thousands of euros in legal fees).


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