German Chancellor Proposes Special 'Save Newspapers' Copyright Law

from the yeah,-that'll-work dept

It’s beginning to look like German Chancellor Angela Merkel believes the entire point of copyright is not to provide incentive to create, but as a way to hurt Google and protect obsolete local businesses. Last month, we wrote about her complaints concerning the Google book project (where she conveniently left out the fact she had tried to fund the European equivalent). And, now, her party has proposed creating a special new copyright law just for old school news organizations. There aren’t many specifics, other than they want to protect news organizations, and this odd claim:

“The Internet cannot be a copyright-free zone.”

The thing is, it’s not a “copyright-free” zone. But what the internet has shown is that if you put in place dumb copyright laws that do no more than to prop up business models, people will route around them. That’s even more likely to occur if Merkel and her colleagues create a special “protect newspapers” copyright.

The article suggests that the likely proposal would involve “neighboring rights,” which are found in some other areas of copyright law — and would require that the original creator of the content give some kind of permission before any commercial use of the work. So, in theory, any “commercial” aggregator could only aggregate and link to stories from which it has received explicit permission. In other words, it would effectively break the basic premise of the web by not allowing you to summarize and link where you would like.

Not surprisingly, newspaper and magazine publishers in Germany are all for it, though they might want to think twice about that. Just wait until one of their competitors breaks a story, and they’re unable to talk about it without “permission.” Meanwhile, plenty of people who actually have put some thought into this realize that the “commercial/non-commercial” line is not clear at all. Is a personal blogger who puts up some basic ads on his or her site (even if they earn pennies) a “commercial enterprise”? And what about Google News, which doesn’t have ads on the European version of Google News (it only recently put ads on the US version)?

On the whole, this sounds like someone decided they wanted to “help out” the major media companies, but without anyone putting much thought into the actual details or inevitable consequences of such a law. A more cynical person might suggest that this proposal is really designed to gain the current ruling party a bit of support from the mainstream press in Germany…

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Comments on “German Chancellor Proposes Special 'Save Newspapers' Copyright Law”

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17 Comments
Dark Helmet (profile) says:

A message from us hateful grammar Nazis...

Last week on your grammar Nazi post, I and some others tried to explain how minor errors in syntax, grammar, tense, and usage can cause some of us issues in reading works.

“And, now, her party has proposed created a special new copyright law just for old school news organizations.”

This would be an example. Especially because you normally right so well, I reread that sentence four or five times after it caused my brain to come to a screeching halt trying to figure out what you were saying.

Just saying….

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: Re: A message from us hateful grammar Nazis...

No, I know it isn’t a big deal. I guess for someone like me that really delves into the text in order to try and understand as best as I can, that kind of mental roadblock is really taxing.

Probably the writer in me due to self-editing where this is a larger issue, but I have trained myself to actually AVOID the whole filling in the blanks thing, so maybe I’m just being picky…

Jason (profile) says:

Re: A message from us hateful grammar Nazis...

“Especially because you normally right so well”

Yes, he normally does right himself once it is brought to his attention that his grammar is upside down. However, yours was the very first comment, so it’s hard to see what you are complaining about here. Or did you mean that he ‘writes’ well? Grammar Nazi, genocide thyself.

Anonymous Coward says:

The internet isn’t a copyright free zone, rather, it is too fast moving of a subject for the real world legal system to deal with properly. It is essentially copyright free, because it just takes too long (internet time) to fix violations.

So while you may not like the politician’s message, he is pretty much bang on in reality.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

The internet is copyright free, if people want it to be. Not legally of course, but the number of people who are copying, creating, copying, recreating, copying, producing, copying, and did I mention copying, at this very moment through thousands of means (copying into their own memory for later recall and reproductions, copying into computer memory for printing or redistribution, copying illegally torrented filees “Has anyone found a good Boondock Saints 2 torrent yet?”, unintentionally copying text ‘illegally’ etc…) is staggering. And it is just the way the internet works. It’s a communication medium that is hardly controlled, and allows hundreds of infringements a second, with every single transfer. I don’t see this changing any time soon

rollinginsanity says:

Re: Re: Re:

It’s true democracy at work. Think about it. In reality, if a government set all speed limits to 20Km/h, right, theoretically, and everybody thought it was stupid and did the old speed limits (a majority) then it would be a law that is too tough to enforce, it would either be ignored by police and lawmakers or it would be repealed. The only problem is that this occurs on the internet every day, the majority of web browsers that is, then politicians go and apply their stupid laws and morality to something that is never going to be obeyed and/or work at all. Why waste money on trying to enforce copyright law. I think copyright organisations should be ashamed of themselves and the money they waste. Go after child porn or online scams for goodness sake, at least they’ll stop some actual crimes that hurt people on a dailey basis.

Wittkewitz (user link) says:

merkel's peers

German chancellor Angela Merkel hast to friends. First one is Liz Mohn, was the 2. wife of the owner of Bertelsmann Verlag (one of the biggest Publisher in the world with Random House and BMG and the like), second one is Friede Springer (who also was the wife of famous Axel Springer) the owner of the biggest german newspaper publisher called Springer Verlag. So she has some close and strong relations to the media world. Innovation will come with what Marissa Mayer called hyper-personalized newsstream. As of now even Google can’t cope with realtime web. So do the old business models of these dinosaurs do. There is plenty of room to outperform the german media landscape by simply being a charm to readers. No one did up to now, but there will be one sooner or later. I guess it will be a newcomer who is just sitting in his garage…

Wittkewitz (user link) says:

merkel's peers

German chancellor Angela Merkel has 2 best friends. First one is Liz Mohn, was the 2. wife of the owner of Bertelsmann Verlag (one of the biggest Publisher in the world with Random House and BMG and the like), second one is Friede Springer (who also was the wife of famous Axel Springer) the owner of the biggest german newspaper publisher called Springer Verlag. So she has some close and strong relations to the media world. Innovation will come with what Marissa Mayer called hyper-personalized newsstream. As of now even Google can’t cope with realtime web. So do the old business models of these dinosaurs do. There is plenty of room to outperform the german media landscape by simply being a charm to readers. No one did up to now, but there will be one sooner or later. I guess it will be a newcomer who is just sitting in his garage…

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