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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Comments on “German Government Wants Google To Pay To Show News Snippets”

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Overcast (profile) says:

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?

teknosapien (profile) says:

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?

TtfnJohn (profile) says:

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.) (profile) says:


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.

WhyNotAskMe (profile) says:


“…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.

Doug Webb says:

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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