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Antitrust hearing creates plenty of smoke, but how much fire?


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“As always, there’s a risk that some of the politicians will see the hearing simply as a chance to grandstand: to puff up to their full pomposity and give powerful tech CEOs a public telling off,” we wrote yesterday, about the US Congress’s antitrust hearing with Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google.

Yes indeed: if you’re a glutton for punishment you can watch the full five and a half hours archived on YouTube, with grandstanding a-plenty. Occasionally, some serious questioning (and awkward moments for the four companies’ CEOs) emerged.

Tech newsletter The Interface has a good overview of what each company was pressed on, while Spotify’s legal/policy teams will be poring over the details revealed about Amazon’s reduced rev-share deal with Apple for its Prime Video app, as well as documents showing some of Apple’s internal discussions about its in-app subscriptions model.

There were even a couple of music-focused questions. For example, one about last year’s row over Genius’s lyrics appearing in Google’s lyric search results, without a licensing deal. Google CEO Sundar Pichai was asked about this (it’s at 1:10:55 in the YouTube video). “We license content there. In fact, we license content from other companies, and so this is a dispute between Genius and the other companies,” he parried.

Meanwhile, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos was asked (3:44:40) about the recent flurry of takedowns for music used in archived Twitch (a subsidiary of Amazon, remember) livestreams. “I’m going to have to ask that I could get back to your office with an answer to that question. I don’t know,” he said.

Stuart Dredge

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