graeme_p - 8:34 am on Mar 16, 2010 (gmt 0)
@lammert and others:
There is a contract: there is an offer (you apply to Google to join Adsense), and acceptance (Google enrolls you in Adsense) and consideration (the Adsense earnings you get).
The fact that the consideration is conditional on earnings does not prevent it being consideration: otherwise everyone who sells stuff purely on commission would be able to argue that there is no consideration.
Italy seems out to get Google, which reflects a government headed by a man who owns TV companies, who wants to cut off the new media economy. I very much doubt the rest of the EU will follow: none of them followed Italy with regard to the last case against Google.
@darkyl, yes, they are a monopoloy, but it depends what evidence can be dug up on abuse of monopoly. Google are not doing any of the things MS did (they do not, for example, threaten to penalize me for also mixing Google and non-Google ads, as long as they look different, which is reasonable).
Personally, I favour much more rigorous competition law, but, given the need to prove abuse, I doubt Google will have problems outside Italy.
I can't imagine the antitrust authority deciding this "contract" is legally fair or valid.
In most countries the validity of a contract that is up to the courts, not the anti-trust authority.