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German Newspaper Publishers Want Copyright On Headlines And Full Control Over Content

from the this-ought-to-be-fun dept

Back in November, we had noted with concern that Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel was signalling her willingness to approve special new copyright laws that would give new monopolies to newspapers, massively increasing their ability to control any part of their works online. It looks like that process is moving forward. Glyn Moody points us to an analysis of the current proposal that would massively expand copyright monopolies specifically to protect some legacy business models, but with no concern at all for encouraging actual creativity. The proposal would create new rights for scientific publishing, photographs, public performances and more. Where it gets scary is when they talk about giving newspapers the right to control their headlines. Think of this as the "anti-Google News" clause:
It looks as if publishers might really be lobbying for obtaining a new exclusive right conferring the power to monopolise speech e.g. by assigning a right to re-use a particular wording in the headline of a news article anywhere else without the permission of the rights holder. According to the drafts circulating in the internet, permission shall be obtainably exclusively by closing an agreement with a new collecting society which will be founded after the drafts have matured into law. Depending on the particulars, new levies might come up for each and every user of a PC, at least if the computer is used in a company for commercial purposes.

Well, obtaining monopoly protection for sentences and even parts of sentences in a natural language appears to be some kind of very strong meat. This would mean that publishers can control the wording of news messages. This comes crucially close to private control on the dissemination of facts.
Even more incredible? Some are arguing that these proposals don't go nearly far enough:
Mr Castendyk concludes that even if the envisaged auxiliary copyright protection for newspaper language enters into law, the resulting additional revenue streams probably would be insufficient to rescue the publishing companies. He then goes a step further and postulates that publishing companies enjoy a quasi-constitutional guantee due to their role in the society insofar the state has the obligation to maintain the conditions for their existence forever. As I'm not a constitutional lawyer I won't comment this here but, with all due respect, I would not be very much surprised if such sentence turns out to be lobbyist speech. Utilising the leveraging effect of this postulated quasi-constitutional guarantee, Castendyk demands to amend cartel law in order to enable a global 'pooling' of all exclusive rights of all newspaper publishers in Germany in order to block any attempt to defect from the paywall cartell by single competitor as discussed above.
Yes, the recommendation is to not just grant every newspaper publisher copyright on small snippets of words and headlines, but to then also force them all into a cartel that will put up paywalls, with no ability to get around the paywall. Talk about killing the news...


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 21st, 2010 @ 10:16am

    The want to kill themselves let them, unless they start censoring the internet and find a way to make people not access other servers in other countries they will die an horrible death.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    jjmsan (profile), Jun 21st, 2010 @ 10:24am

    For profit

    Newspapers have alway been run to make a profit. The whole golden age of newsprint that protects liberties is something like the pharse "When I was a kid we...."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 21st, 2010 @ 10:25am

    "German Newspaper Publishers Want Copyright On Headlines And Full Control Over Content"

    and I want a million dollars from the government just because.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Mike S, Jun 21st, 2010 @ 10:25am

    so let them...

    They will just die off faster. If this is REALLY what they think can save them... let them have it and let them die. There ARE other sources of information out there..and more will come along and see the opportunity to replace these dying dinosaurs.

    They don't need new laws... they need to learn to adapt and innovate... but I guess buying politicians is easier.

     

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  5.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Jun 21st, 2010 @ 10:26am

    What exactly is the problem?

    They can opt out with robots.txt.

    If they can't figure that out, Google should grow a pair and bar them itself.

    Damn, Google, think long term. They'll come around once it dawns on the dinosaurs that pointing people at your stuff is something that should encourage.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
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    Rose M. Welch (profile), Jun 21st, 2010 @ 10:27am

    German Murders Chancellor!

    That's pretty straightforward. How many times do you think you could find synonyms before you ran out and infringed on someone else's headline?

    What about all of those WWII headlines that just consisted of the word WAR!?

    This is stupid.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 21st, 2010 @ 10:29am

    Re:

    Ah, but you see, the difference is that you don't own a mega-corporation. Come back when you have some more monetary influence.

    Signed: The government.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 21st, 2010 @ 10:37am

    If it doesn't pass in Germany I'm confident the U.S. congress will be happy to enact those laws.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 21st, 2010 @ 10:54am

    Re: For profit

    And once you reminisce about it, you end up realizing that newspapers back in the day were just as much filled with crap as they are today.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Jun 21st, 2010 @ 11:08am

    Re: so let them...

    "They will just die off faster. If this is REALLY what they think can save them... let them have it and let them die."

    I agree. This is one of the reasons ACTA is a good thing artificial support of industries from external competition causes a harder faster crash. The internet is borderless, laws and trade agreements wont work.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Jun 21st, 2010 @ 11:09am

    Oh joy !!!

    "permission shall be obtainably exclusively by closing an agreement with a new collecting society which will be founded after the drafts have matured into law."

    Just what we need, another collection society.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 21st, 2010 @ 11:26am

    Why would copyright be rendered obsolete in the near future? It seems to be working out really well!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Jun 21st, 2010 @ 11:29am

    He summed up it up nicely

    "This appears to me as some sort of inappropriate overstating the rank and weight of established business models. First, a group of companies is living on the basis of a certain sort of business model. Then, a technical revolution occurs. After that, the business model does not work any longer. Now, this group of companies cries foul, ultimatively demanding new laws to protect their deprecated business model despite the changed technological and social environment. And, if critics argue that such new laws might cause severe collateral damages elsewhere, they simply don't care."

    "And in view of the bad reputation IP law already has in the Internet-savvy younger generation this might, in later years, be another coffin to this field of law as we know it."

    Big Ole GRIN ... This guy definitely has it right.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
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    STJ, Jun 21st, 2010 @ 11:42am

    Re:

    It will not kill them. The government will just raise some taxes and pay them to stay open, just like Amtrack

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 21st, 2010 @ 12:36pm

    Re:

    Considering the fact that piracy rates have only increased, I agree :)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
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    Ron Rezendes (profile), Jun 21st, 2010 @ 12:52pm

    Death to an Industry!!!

    The legacy German newspaper industry will collapse in 3...2...1...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 21st, 2010 @ 3:04pm

    Re: Death to an Industry!!!

    Don't write them off that quick, they have an astonishingly strong lobby here.

    Btw, it is fascinating, that I HAVE to read foreign media to learn about this at all. No mention of this massive increase in demands anywhere in german media at all! And for now, that includes blogs.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
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    interval (profile), Jun 21st, 2010 @ 3:47pm

    Re: What exactly is the problem?

    It amazes me that rather than this simple, although still somewhat "technical" approach to "protecting" their content they would rather threaten legal action. It seems like that a couple of it guys as witnesses in any of these suits would get courts to see how much of a nothing and a bother these suits really are.

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 21st, 2010 @ 5:48pm

    friggin nazis

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
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    jjmsan (profile), Jun 21st, 2010 @ 10:25pm

    Re: Re: For profit

    They had more pages of Sunday comics though.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
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    techflaws.org (profile), Jun 22nd, 2010 @ 2:36am

    Re: Re: Death to an Industry!!!

    Really? So you don't read netzpolitik.org or heise.de? Pity.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 22nd, 2010 @ 5:18am

    I really hope that google and the other search engines simply stop listing any of their content, period. no more ad revenue for them any more, not to mention it will cut their influence down a few notches when noone reads their articles anymore

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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