Leader, Times Joins Suit Against Google, Facebook

For The Leader/Times

WESTFIELD — Gale Force Media, LLC, the publisher of The Westfield Leader and The Scotch Plains-Fanwood Times, filed suit in federal court this week against California-based tech giants Google and Facebook. The lawsuit alleges that Google and Facebook violated federal law by unlawfully monopolizing the digital advertising market, to the detriment of thousands of newspapers across the country, including The Leader/Times.

Gale Force Media filed its case in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey. In filing the suit, Gale Force Media joined publishers of more than 125 newspapers as plaintiffs in 13 federal lawsuits originating in 10 different states, including Delaware, Indiana, Maryland, Mississippi, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, West Virginia and Wisconsin. Gale Force Media is the first New Jersey-based publisher to join this case against what is frequently referred to as “Big Tech.”

“As alleged in our Complaint the defendants have made money by monopolizing the digital advertising market and using content from our newspapers without compensation to our newspapers for too long,” according to Leader/Times Publisher and Editor-in-Chief Lauren Barr. “Unless there is change in the digital advertising market, local news and journalism could be rendered extinct, which would be a detriment to our communities and democracy.”

In October 2020, the U.S. House Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law issued a 470-page report detailing Google’s and Facebook’s conduct in the digital advertising market and the profound effects it has had upon America’s free and diverse press, particularly the newspaper industry. The Federal Trade Commission, the Department of Justice, and numerous state attorneys general also have filed antitrust claims against Google or Facebook, or both.

Gale Force Media is represented by Paul Farrell, Jr. and Mike Fuller of Farrell & Fuller, LLC; Paul Geller, Stuart Davidson, David Mitchell and Steve Jodlowski of Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP; Clayton Fitzsimmons, Bob Fitzsimmons and Mark Colantonio of Fitzsimmons Law Firm PLLC; John Herman and Serina Vash of Herman Jones LLP; and Jon-Henry Barr and John Gulyas of Barr & Gulyas, LLC in Clark.

Attorney Jon-Henry Barr told The Leader/Times, “We are privileged to be advocating for local journalism in this critically important case, and we are hopeful that the lawsuits by Gale Force Media and others can bring about change in this industry.”

A response to the lawsuit from the defendants was not available as of press time.

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