Microsoft - News Corp. deal could face legal challenges

Cutting a deal with Microsoft (MSFT) to block Google (GOOG) in exchange for cash may or may not be a viable way for Rupert Murdoch to improve the economics of his media outlets. But before he can find out, Murdoch will have to answer a different question: Is it even legal?

It may not be, according to several legal experts contacted by DailyFinance. A potential News Corp.-Microsoft pact, as sketched out by the Financial Times, could run afoul of the law in several ways. For starters, it could violate anti-trust laws, says to Michael J. Thomas, a principal at the St. Louis law firm Harness Dickey. "Anti-competitive behavior is where you're trying to impair or eliminate someone's ability to compete against you," says Thomas. "The fundamental principle is that competition is good for consumers." For Microsoft to pay News Corp. (NWS) specifically to withhold its content from Google while making it available to other search engines "strikes me as more anti-competitive than competitive," he says.