German Government Wants Google To Pay To Show News Snippets

from the not-this-again dept

Some bad ideas just keep on coming back, despite the fact that they are manifestly stupid. Trying to get Google and others to pay for the privilege of sending more traffic to newspapers by including short snippets from their stories is one of them. Of course, logic would dictate that the newspapers should be paying Google for the marketing it provides, but unfortunately not everyone sees it that way.

Last year, the Belgian courts decided that Google was infringing on newspapers' copyrights just by linking to stories. Google was ordered to remove those links, at which point the newspapers started whining about "harsh retaliation" -- even though it was the court's decision, not Google's, and it was the newspapers' legal action that brought this about.

Sadly, the German government doesn't seem to have been paying attention to that rather ridiculous saga -- or maybe simply doesn't care -- and has just announced that it will bring in a compulsory licensing scheme for the use of even "small parts" of journalistic articles on commercial sites (original German).

The justification is that this will allow publishers to share in the financial benefit arising from this use, and for authors of the articles to receive an "appropriate" contribution, whatever that means. To do that, of course, will require the creation of yet more bureaucracy: a new collecting society (let's hope it doesn't turn out like the German music collection agency GEMA.)

What that overlooks, of course, is that Google, clearly the main target here, doesn't make any money from its Google News service, which is ad free. It would be nice to see Google simply remove all links, as happened in Belgium, and then wait for the German publishers to start complaining about this further example of "harsh retaliation". Sadly, that's unlikely to happen, since Google tends not to take a particularly aggressive stance on these issues (probably hoping to avoid further anti-trust complaints.)

Of course, the analysis above assumes that the still extremely vague proposal is simply a plan to skim some money off major Internet players like Google and to hand it to the German publishing industry so the latter doesn't need to worry about innovating. But given that the copyright industries' sense of entitlement knows no bounds, it's even possible that publishers want this scheme to apply to every quotation from their newspapers and magazines -- including those in blogs with any Google Ads, say, and Facebook posts. Now might be a good time for German Internet users to start raising the alarm, just in case.

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Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    silverscarcat (profile), Mar 5th, 2012 @ 2:37pm

    Of course they want to get paid for this privilege.

    people might, horror of horrors, get the idea that information and other stuff should be free.

    It's not like I can't go and look at a newspaper without paying for it at a business, right?

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous CowRd, Mar 5th, 2012 @ 2:40pm

    Sad, just sad

    Sad day for freedom of the press and freedom of information. What about those publications that actually want the publicity Google gives them?

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 5th, 2012 @ 2:42pm

    I would hope they would do just like they did with the Belgium newspapers and remove the ability to link Germany with Google. I would suspect in a short period of time, most of the internet users in Germany would be teaching the politicians just what not to f*ck with.

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 5th, 2012 @ 2:43pm

    If this happens, and Google doesn't want to just remove their links, then Google should sue the German Government. Unfortunately, both the French and German Governments seem to act very weirdly around technology and stuff like this.

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 5th, 2012 @ 2:50pm

    Any chance of Google turning the tables and suing these guys for mooching their bandwidth to drum up subscribers? They may not get the internet, but apparently they understand extortionate licencing fees perfectly. Demand twice what you'd end up paying them, and either they'll back down or you'll make a profit.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 5th, 2012 @ 3:09pm

    Re: Sad, just sad

    There just pirates supporting pirate news with their lax attitude regarding their hard earned copyrighted material. Stop allowing google to devalue news by making free. /sarc

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 5th, 2012 @ 3:17pm

    Re: Re: Sad, just sad

    And here I thought that facts were not copyright able, silly me. Obviously I need to take a class from one of The Assciations about what I can and can not do. Also what they can do if they have enough support of politicians

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 5th, 2012 @ 3:21pm

    Re:

    Google is a private entity. They can sue the government all they want, but it is an effort in futility. The best way to fight back is to do what they want with a smile on your face. Give them enough room to hang themselves

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 5th, 2012 @ 3:21pm

    Re:

    Google is a private entity. They can sue the government all they want, but it is an effort in futility. The best way to fight back is to do what they want with a smile on your face. Give them enough room to hang themselves

     

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

  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 5th, 2012 @ 3:21pm

    Re:

    Google is a private entity. They can sue the government all they want, but it is an effort in futility. The best way to fight back is to do what they want with a smile on your face. Give them enough room to hang themselves

     

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

  11.  
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    Tech42 (profile), Mar 5th, 2012 @ 3:50pm

    There's an old saying in I.T.

    Give good clients what they need.

    Give bad clients what they ask for.

     

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  12.  
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    Planespotter (profile), Mar 5th, 2012 @ 3:53pm

    Re:

    Don't sue them, just invoice them for bandwidth usage and marheting costs.

     

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  13.  
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    Planespotter (profile), Mar 5th, 2012 @ 3:54pm

    Re: Re:

    *marketing costs.

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 5th, 2012 @ 3:59pm

    Germans should expect their government to pay them back their tax dollars for all of this nonsense that they're wasting money on. They should demand a refund, this is not how they intended their government to spend their money.

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 5th, 2012 @ 4:13pm

    Re: Re:

    Yeah, we got it!! (:

     

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  16.  
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    Overcast (profile), Mar 5th, 2012 @ 4:39pm

    So this means if a newspaper prints something about me...

    I can sue for copyright violations?


    After all; what makes these news outlets the 'king' of information in regards to news? They don't own it.

    If each person who a story has ever been written about started suing - I doubt it would be long before traditional news is just gone... Even if not one person won, the logistics of dealing with the thousands of court cases would certainly strain their budgets.

    And hell, why not - it's the mode of operation for 'media' today isn't it?

     

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  17.  
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    Squig (profile), Mar 5th, 2012 @ 4:47pm

    Oh trust us, we sounded the alarms. Not sure if they will hear them until the next elections, b

     

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  18.  
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    Squig (profile), Mar 5th, 2012 @ 4:49pm

    Oh trust us, we sounded the alarms. Not sure if they will hear them until the next elections, but by then the Pirate Party will land north of 10% if they continue like this, they ought to hear that.

     

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  19.  
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    teknosapien, Mar 5th, 2012 @ 4:50pm

    I often wonder

    If Google decided to block all traffic from Germany how would they deal with that -- of course then you have other search engines and I'm guessing after a while they would be hit up with the same absurd thing. Reminds me of being in the military back in the 70's, and the locals saying they didn't want anyone from the base patronizing their shops and establishments, so the base closed the gate down after 6 months they begged to have our $ again. the point being do they actually know what they are asking for?

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 5th, 2012 @ 5:05pm

    The government-industrial complex is mostly self serving, news at 11.

     

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  21.  
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    TtfnJohn (profile), Mar 5th, 2012 @ 7:02pm

    Let me see now, the German government wants Google to pay for a link to a story in a German newspaper that may quote little more than a tweet,

    In essence this means they want the index to pay the indexee for being listed,

    So I guess I could say this is some kind of new sort of paywall to make sure that I actually have to search around without search engines to find the newspaper and then give up because I can't find it all for a couple of euros or marks if the euro continues on it's path to implosion.

    Will someone, please, explain the sense in this?

    (Yes, I know there is none but it's utterly fascinating to watch bureaucrats and politicians aim a shot gun loaded with a deer slug at their feet and pull the trigger and then complain that they can't find their foot anymore and would someone please call 911.)

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 5th, 2012 @ 8:25pm

    It seems only consistent. For us, Youtube is already a wreck riddled with 'not available in your country' posters, so why should we Germans be able to make use of any the other Google services?

     

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  23.  
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    techflaws.org (profile), Mar 5th, 2012 @ 9:55pm

    Re:

    Won't work cause our politicians are clueless, corrupt and feel entitled anyway. The problem is, as soon as the law is on the books, it will stay there. Consequences be damned.

    And yes, I think Google should kick those bastards out of there index RIGHT NOW before the law goes into effect. When you see how easy Micros~1 came through their anti-trust problems I don't see why Google shouldn't see this as the lesser of two evils.

     

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  24.  
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    techflaws.org (profile), Mar 5th, 2012 @ 9:56pm

    Re:

    Keep dreaming.

     

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  25.  
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    Vik1ng (profile), Mar 5th, 2012 @ 11:22pm

    Re: Re:

    I don't think google can just kick websites out of their search engine for no apparent reason. They would probably get sued and lose.

     

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  26.  
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    abshk, Mar 6th, 2012 @ 1:01am

    ya surely... google has to pay as they are earning lots of monry..............

     

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  27.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 6th, 2012 @ 3:06am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Really? On what grounds can anyone force Google to be listed?

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 6th, 2012 @ 5:30am

    Re: I often wonder

    Be OK by me if all things Germany simply disappeared from Google. Also be OK if that lunatic country France disappeared with them. The old advice about being careful what you wish for has never been truer than now

     

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

  29.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Mar 6th, 2012 @ 6:57am

    Re:

    Between the greens and the pirate party you are going to see 20% over the next 2-3 years.

     

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

  30.  
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    WhyNotAskMe (profile), Mar 6th, 2012 @ 3:04pm

    Careful...

    "...given that the copyright industries' sense of entitlement knows no bounds..."

    Are the newspaper publishers behind this? Do they have the same attitude as the record companies and the movie producers? You give no justification for the use of that phrase, as it is used here in an article about the newspaper publishers. Now, perhaps its true, perhaps it isn't, but I think you need to be careful you don't tar everybody with the same brush. For example, I have no sympathy for the RIAA or the MPAA, but I have some sympathy for the news publishing industry. Come to think of it, TechDirt is a part of that, isn't it? Please clarify - thanks.

     

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

  31.  
    identicon
    Doug Webb, Mar 6th, 2012 @ 3:28pm

    The German people are the victims

    The German people are the victims here because Google can just stop listing any news sites in Germany. What will the German people do when they can't find any news in German? I really want to find out. It should be quite funny to watch as the German people wake up to what their government has done to them. If they can ever find out, that is, without any news.

     

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  32.  
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    blasphemous, Mar 6th, 2012 @ 8:33pm

    Re: silverscarcat

    Big sound of sarcasm there, but just in case: No, I can't go in and just read the paper at my local news agent without paying. I can however skim the articles on the front page and even in some places flick through it, and decide if I want to buy it or not.

     

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  33.  
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    silverscarcat (profile), Apr 17th, 2012 @ 7:53pm

    Re: Re: silverscarcat

    Two words...

    Public libraries.

     

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  34.  
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    lrobbo (profile), Jun 7th, 2012 @ 9:50am

    Ridiculous trying to charge google for giving people free traffic. However, when they take the information from other sites and display it as their own then this is taking things too far but is something we will be seeing more and more of in the near future . . .

     

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


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