US: Yelp accuses Google of scraping, breaking settlement

The ongoing Yelp vs. Google battle continues. Once again, the user-generated review site is accusing the search behemoth of scraping content off Yelp, mainly photos, to use in the search results it offers Googlers.

The practice is in direct violation of a 2013 regulatory settlement between Google and other companies, which stemmed from a 2012 complaint filed by Yelp with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). At the time, Yelp’s argument focused on two major points: that Google unfairly used other sites’ content in order to better its own products (like Google Places and search results), and that Google excluded competitor results in a “search bias.” The settlement — which saw Google agreeing to stop scraping other sites’ content if they chose to opt out — was called by some a mere “slap on the wrist.”

And according to Yelp, Google’s at it again. The Hill reports a recent internal investigation found that “over one hour, Google pulled images from Yelp’s servers nearly 386,000 times for business listings in Google Maps.” In other words, Googling a restaurant might still result in several Yelp-owned images popping up.

“This is a flagrant violation of Google’s promises to the FTC,” Yelp’s public policy chief Luther Lowe said in a letter of complaint to the Commission, “and the FTC should reopen the Google case immediately.”

An FTC spokeswoman confirmed that the agency had received the letter and would study it carefully, but declined to comment further.

Full Content: The Hill

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