Newspapers all over the country have been quietly filing antitrust lawsuits against Google and Facebook for the past year, alleging the two firms monopolized the digital ad market for revenue that would otherwise go to local news.
Why it matters: What started as a small-town effort to take a stand against Big Tech has turned into a national movement, with over 200 newspapers involved across dozens of states.
- "The intellectual framework for this developed over the last 3-4 years," said Doug Reynolds, managing partner of HD Media, a holding company that owns several West Virginia newspapers, including the Charleston Gazette-Mail.
- Reynolds, along with a group of lawyers, filed the first newspaper lawsuit of this kind in January in West Virginia.
Catch up quick: As a part of the first lawsuit, Reynolds worked with a coalition of lawyers that has agreed to represent newspapers all over the country looking to file similar lawsuits.
- The lawyers include experts in antitrust litigation and lawyers with a personal interest in newspapers from Farrell and Fuller, Fitzsimmons Law Firm, Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP and Herman Jones LLP.
- The lawsuits are being funded via contingencies, which means the lawyers involved only get paid if and when the newspapers win settlements.
By the numbers: To-date, the group has been retained by over 30 newspaper ownership groups (list) on behalf of over 200 publications to file lawsuits.
- Of those, antitrust complaints have officially been filed by 17 different ownership groups representing roughly 150 newspapers.
- The News Media Alliance, a trade group that represents newspapers, has not been involved in the litigation, but has been monitoring the lawsuits.
- “We fully support this litigation,” News Media Alliance general counsel Danielle Coffey said in a statement.
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