Europe's New Digital Commissioner Explores Imposing An EU-Wide 'Google Tax'

from the not-learning-from-experience dept

Last week, Techdirt reported on the humiliating and inevitable climbdown by German publishers in their attempt to force Google to pay for daring to drive traffic to their sites by using snippets from their publications. Despite that abject failure, it seems that the European Union’s new commissioner for the digital realm, Günther Oettinger, is thinking about bringing in exactly the same misguided idea across the whole of the European Union, as the Handelsblatt newspaper reports (translation by Pirate Party MEP Julia Reda):

When Google is taking intellectual works from within the EU and using them, then the EU has to protect those works and demand a tax from Google.

Coming from the person who is charged with reforming European copyright, this does not augur well. If Oettinger really thinks that such a tax is the way forward for copyright in the digital age, he is evidently as clueless about the Internet as everyone feared he was, after telling the European Parliament that celebrities storing nude pictures online are stupid.

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Comments on “Europe's New Digital Commissioner Explores Imposing An EU-Wide 'Google Tax'”

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David says:

Wow, let's just de-index all Europe newspapers

Well, I guess except maybe Germany. They already figured it out.

Of course, these people wanting Google to pay a tax are also spending a lot of time/money on SEO to get Google to rank their content, too, right? Well, throw that money in the toilet when Google de-indexes you rather than pay that tax.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Wow, let's just de-index all Europe newspapers

From the quote, they’d be demanding the tax for Google’s use of EU intellectual property… so the solution would seem to be to not use any. No property being used, no tax.

Then another search engine would step in and become dominant in Europe… but then the tax would be demanded of them and the cycle would repeat itself.

bob (profile) says:

Re: Re: don't de-index, turn it on its head!

Would it make sense for google to be pro-active and send the various newspapers a notice that due to the fact that they are in the EU, and due to EU IP stance, Google requires each of the newspapers to pay google a fee to be included in the google SEO search results, the contract of course includes wording that allows google to index the pages the papers are paying to show in google SEO results.
seems to solve IP problems, side steps an indexing tax for the IP, and grants EU papers the ability to control what google indexes and what it doesn’t from their sites.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

The face-thing has been going since at least the 90’s. Before that things were so corrupt that it didn’t matter.

The reality is that the politicians cannot do anything without securing enough accept from lobbyists. Lobbyists are the people running the circus in the parliament. In terms of google taxation it is a logical consequence of very limited economic capacity for the true grassroots supporting a free internet. The only thing that could loosen the noose around the politicians heads are forcible breakups of advertisement from Googles other services.

Anonymous Coward says:

“When Google is taking intellectual works from within the EU and using them, then the EU has to protect those works and demand a tax from Google.”

Haha! If it were just that then it wouldn’t be a true Oettinger!
The Handelsblatt also write:
“A copyright fee would not only be paid by EU citizens but also by US companies like Google.”
(note: work on translation skills)

So every EU citizen has to pay the tax because you know… you might infringe on something…somehow. But given (at least in Germany) we pay taxes for most sorts of storage(hd,usb,sdd…), printers and all the various discs and are still not allowed to copy anything, I assume even if all europeans pay the tax you still might not be allowed to copy the things you paid the tax for.

DogBreath says:

Re: Re:

I assume even if all europeans pay the tax you still might not be allowed to copy the things you paid the tax for.

If you think about it, it’s really an all-around good deal. Just think of all the satisfaction and the sleep you’ll be able to get at night knowing even if you somehow did commit an intellectual property offense, at least they couldn’t stick it to you for tax evasion.


bob (profile) says:

Why Isn't TechDirt Celebrating This?

From the beginning, the message has been simple: copyright is horrible and we need to explore other mechanisms. Well, this is one of those mechanisms. People can download forever and pretend that the content is free. Then they pay some monthly Netflix-like fee, but to the government. Sure, they have no choice, but let’s not get too obsessed with that point. Everyone around here has been demonizing Hollywood and the “MaFIAAA” forever. Why are we going Tea Party and demonizing government?

Yah gotta pay for the artists somehow. You either pay them piecemeal and you let society pay in bulk. Personally I like having the people direct their dollars to their favorite artists instead of letting some bureaucracy, but I get shouted down around here when I suggest that copyright is pretty cool.

Well, suck it up TechDirt. This is your DREAM come true. You’ve been saying that innovative schemes like this are just around the corner. Well, they’re here now. Why aren’t you dancing??????

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Strawman Bob Strikes Again

You’re either being disingenuous and/or ignorant. You’re conflating a tax on Google “using” EU IP, which is to say, Google includes brief blurbs of articles in order to drive traffic towards the publishers, with the idea of a public fund for the arts with all content produced by that fund being public domain.

If you think or want to pretend for the sake of your jeers that such a tax would make the content legally free or practically free regardless of its legal status, you’re being too consumed by your desire to be negative here to think straight.

If you think IP holders would ever accept any amount of a tax as the maximum limit of what they could charge for a product, you’re still being silly.

How any government tax scheme to force Google to pay for giving publishers business translates into free content for the people and more money for the artists (instead of the publishers) is beyond me. I guess Bob’s world is much more fast and loose with practical reality and filled with Techdirt voodoo dolls and dartboards.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Why Isn't TechDirt Celebrating This?

It’s incredible that someone who has been reading and commenting here for so many years can lack even the most basic understanding of the actual opinions often posted here. You are honestly delusional.

“I get shouted down around here when I suggest that copyright is pretty cool.”

Probably because you’re one of the idiots who starts falsely accusing those you address of criminal activity. Maybe if you listened once in a while, you’re realise that the complete abolition of copyright is not an aim of most people who comment here.

Copyright can be pretty cool if used correctly. The current system is broken, the terms terrible and the enforcement methods both unworkable and counter-productive while attacking innocent people. the suggestions here are usually ways to enforce and reform copyright to something both effective and fair.

That you can’t understand why is a great indication of how much you read the actual opinions posted here. Strawmen are cool as well though, huh?

John85851 (profile) says:

Two points

1) Does this tax affect only search engines such as Bing or is this the usual “Google = The Internet” tax?

2) How long will it take for Google decide it’s not worth the hassle to put up with all this nonsense? They should just block all IP address in the EU and put up a page saying “Sorry, your lawmakers don’t want us in the EU. Please get them to change the laws or use a VPN in the US.”

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: tax google out of the search biz

“Google in their relentless pursuit of profits has managed to transform the web into a bait site garbage pile”

So, which magical search engine do you use that’s not only better than Google’s offerings, but whose search algorithms aren’t used by companies trying to increase their traffic through link bait (that’s right – the “bait site garbage” are provided by those sites, not Google). if it’s as good as you say, why not recommend them?

Seriously, stop whining about Google and tell us what’s better. Google got to where they are because they were better, not because people whined about Altavista until people changed just because.

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