Austria Wants To Bring In Google Tax For Snippets — Including Single Words

from the how-low-can-you-go? dept

Here on Techdirt, we have been following with a certain bemusement attempts by a number of European governments to bring in laws that would grant newspaper and magazine owners a special “ancillary” copyright over snippets — actually a thinly-disguised attempt to tax Google. Despite the miserable failure of this ploy, Austria has decided it wants to join the club, as reported here by the Initiative Against Ancillary Copyright site:

The Austrian proposal is very similar to the German law. Producers of “newspapers and magazines” shall be granted an exclusive right only against commercial providers of search engines and news aggregators. As in Germany, this right is also supposed to only last for one year. But there remains one big difference: The draft does not include an exception for “single words and shortest text-snippets” which expands the scope of the right tremendously!

That’s something of an understatement.

Assuming Austria goes ahead and brings in this change (it’s currently a draft amendment to the country’s copyright law), it will surely learn the hard way that it doesn’t help publishers. What’s more worrying is that there is an amendment (number 204 – pdf) to the proposed revision of the EU copyright directive, that seeks to bring in this crazy idea across all 28 member states:

Notes that the current legal framework provides for neighbouring rights for performers, phonogram producers, film producers and broadcasting companies, but not for press publishers; calls on the Commission, therefore, to analyse whether neighbouring rights for press publishers can provide appropriate protection and remuneration for their work in a digital media world;

There’s an important vote on Tuesday that will determine whether that amendment is adopted, along with some of the hundreds of others that have been proposed. Let’s hope that the European politicians bear in mind how badly the idea has turned out every time it has been tried before.

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Comments on “Austria Wants To Bring In Google Tax For Snippets — Including Single Words”

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30 Comments
That One Guy (profile) says:

Five minutes, max

Seriously, five minutes on their search engine of choice could have shown them that blatant cash-grabs like this never end up going well.

Country passes law to tax Google for showing snippets or newspaper sues to try and shake some money out of Google…

Google responds by pulling the snippets completely rather than paying…

Newspapers and others who have just lost the free advertising and see their traffic drop like a rock scream their heads off about how ‘unfair’ and ‘vindictive’ Google is being…

Law is repealed/Lawsuit is dropped.

I know it’s mostly posturing, trying to look like they’re ‘standing up for the local papers’, but really, it’s not like this is the first time this has been tried, and it never works(for one thing Google can’t afford to give in, even once, or everyone will come demanding to be paid for the free advertising they’re handing out). For once couldn’t they just skip the pathetic theatrics and drop the bills/lawsuits before a bunch of time and money is wasted?

techflaws (profile) says:

Re: Five minutes, max

Google responds by pulling the snippets completely rather than paying…

And publishers run to the government complaining about Google abusing their “monopoly” which in turn makes clueless/corrupt politicians ramp up the rhetoric on breaking up Google. As is happening in Germany right now.

You guys are far too optimistic about common sense.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Five minutes, max

They’re going to do that anyway though. If the simple fact that other search engines exist isn’t enough to show that the ‘monopoly’ argument is bunk, then it doesn’t really matter what Google does or doesn’t do, the idiot and/or corrupt politicians are still going to go after the company for whatever ridiculous reason they can come up with.

Anonymous Coward says:

“Notes that the current legal framework provides for neighbouring rights for performers”

I’m a performer and I have a dictionary and I have read every word aloud (*). Now everyone give me all your money. Or I will get very upset. And even if you give me all your money I will get very upset when another person reads all ‘my’ words and demands money from me.

* What is the definition of ‘performer’? Is there some European Union register of ‘performers’? I didn’t think so.

Anonymous Coward says:

From Techdirt's Memory Hole:

Remember Meltwater loses against AP? Scraping headlines is NOT “fair use”. Gains most of the value of a work without returning any commensurate benefit to the creator.

Same principle. Sure, Google is a bit more complex, but no matter how analyzed, doesn’t create any value of its own. Nor is apparently subject to any pesky control from the US gov’t, buys politicians and media flak wholesale.*

GOOGLE IS SO LITTLE TAXED THAT ANY IS HUGE INCREASE. Not only “legal” dodges but keeps that in fake “offshore” accounts. More or less random of dozens easily found:
“Fury at Google’s L12m tax bill on sales of L3bn: ‘Paltry’ sum attacked by MPs who call for action to force Internet giant to pay more”
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2439760/Fury-Googles-12m-tax-sales-3bn-Paltry-sum-attacked-MPs.html
12,000,000 / 3,000,000,000 = FOUR TENTHS OF ONE PERCENT.


* And why is there never items unfavorable to Google here? (That aren’t first in the NYTimes to show is okay to carp a bit.) — Just take the Copia link at bottom of any Techdirt page, look for Google’s logo at Masnick’s “think tank”. It’s amazing how brazen Masnick is, shows how never questioned by fanboys. Anyone dissenting they accuse of shills without least evidence, but Masnick can STATE “sponsorship” by Google and show its logo!

Lord_Unseen (profile) says:

Re: From Techdirt's Memory Hole:

(I know not to feed the troll, but here we go).

So, here are some quotes that illustrate the differences between the Meltwater case and what Google is currently doing.

“Furthermore, the court made the distinction that, unlike public search engines, Meltwater’s search service was a commercial product closed off to paid subscribers.”

“Meltwater copied 4.5% – 60% per Registered Article, including the lede which summarizes the article. Meltwater failed to show that it copied this data for the functionality of its search engine.”

Additionally, while this case was going on, a nearly identical case was going on in the UK. In that one, Meltwater eventually came out on top.

So, to summarize: In response to reporting about a European law, you pull out a U.S. case that has enough relevant differences to be completely unrelated, even in the U.S. And you want us to take you seriously? Try again.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: From Techdirt's Memory Hole:

“GOOGLE IS SO LITTLE TAXED THAT ANY IS HUGE INCREASE”

They use the same loopholes as every major corporation. Why are you particularly obsessed with this one?

“* And why is there never items unfavorable to Google here? “

Why can you never seem to see those items whenever they’re pointed out to them. Wilful ignorance is a not a virtue.

“Just take the Copia link at bottom of any Techdirt page”

The one you masturbated over for about 3 days here, as if you’d suddenly found a hidden agenda by finding… a publicly announced sponsorship on a different site that’s been fully disclosed? Do you have any evidence that editorial on this site if affected by the sponsorship, or do you just cream yourself over the positive Google stories written here (while ignoring the negative ones)?

I think we all know the answer, you tiny pathetic man, you.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: From Techdirt's Memory Hole:

Notice how the person doesn’t say a bad word against the other sponsorship companies listed in the Copia Link. When they start saying bad things about everyone of those companies i may see his point but 1 out of 8 companies singled out for being bad against doesn’t mean jack sh*t.

Anonymous Coward says:

From Techdirt's Memory Hole:

Remember Meltwater loses against AP? Scraping headlines is NOT “fair use”. Gains most of the value of a work without returning any commensurate benefit to the creator.

Same principle. Sure, Google is a bit more complex, but no matter how analyzed, doesn’t create any value of its own. Nor is apparently subject to any pesky control from the US gov’t, buys politicians and media flak wholesale.*

GOOGLE IS SO LITTLE TAXED THAT ANY IS HUGE INCREASE. Not only “legal” dodges but keeps that in fake “offshore” accounts. More or less random of dozens easily found:
“Fury at Google’s L12m tax bill on sales of L3bn: ‘Paltry’ sum attacked by MPs who call for action to force Internet giant to pay more”
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2439760/Fury-Googles-12m-tax-sales-3bn-Paltry-sum-attacked-MPs.html
12,000,000 / 3,000,000,000 = FOUR TENTHS OF ONE PERCENT.


* And why is there never items unfavorable to Google here? (That aren’t first in the NYTimes to show is okay to carp a bit.) — Just take the Copia link at bottom of any Techdirt page, look for Google’s logo at Masnick’s “think tank”. It’s amazing how brazen Masnick is, shows how never questioned by fanboys. Anyone dissenting they accuse of shills without least evidence, but Masnick can STATE “sponsorship” by Google and show its logo!

Anonymous Coward says:

It seems clear that the Newspapers profit more than the search engines do. (This logic applies to all newspapers and all search engines, not just Google and the Austerlich National Socialist Daily Propa-press.)

Why? Because Google is willing to forego whatever profit is involved, and the newspapers … aren’t.

Clearly, then, by all the economic analysis that’s within the intellectual reach of MBA’s, newspapers _should_ pay search engines to be included.

But some issues transcend the understanding of a newspaper publisher, or MBA, or any other kind of moron. People expect search engines to be “fair” — and anything that smacks of ulterior motives–such as bribes or strong-arming to get results (you could say “paid” or “compelled”)–destroys most of the value of the search results.

In words even an ancient uneducated peasant or slave could understand, this is killing the goose that lays your golden eggs.

Where do these publishing companies find executives that are so stupid? (Don’t tell me, I know, it has to be graduates of MBA programs.)

Mr. Magoo says:

No value?

A/C comments:
“Same principle. Sure, Google is a bit more complex, but no matter how analyzed, doesn’t create any value of its own.”

Not true. It provides value in that people can find the content they are looking for. If folks can’t find something, the content might as well not to have been written at all. If the author can’t figure out how to make money from having the content viewed, that’s their problem, not Google’s.

There is a simple solution for Google here: If you fail to wave the fees imposed under this law, Google doesn’t index your content. People never see it, you go out of business as you deserve.

I remember the old Heinlein short story about a disruptive technology. The main idea was “If you want to stop my new and disruptive business, then I will open a whale oil lamp business and demand the courts shut down that new newfangled power generator business because it hurts my ability to sell whale oil for lighting.”

Knicker Twister says:

Farewell free, hello paywall.

Google is providing a free service everyone finds useful, all at Google’s own expense. If by law they’re no longer allowed to recoup even a portion of the money they’re investing into this service, which they were doing via ads, then the only alternative left would be to begin charging people for the privilege of being listed in their search index. If I were Google, I’d set things up so that the service they provide is free for non-commercial use only. Those wishing to use Google’s search service for commercial purposes must pay them a reasonable fee. This type of arrangement is very common these days and nobody bats an eye at all the others doing something very similar (which includes publishers btw). If anyone has a problems with that, then answer why it’s ok for everyone else, but not for Google? Their software, their servers, their bandwidth, their upkeep costs, their choice.

Knicker Twister says:

Re: Re: Farewell free, hello paywall.

I agree, but what else can they do? Once enough laws have passed among all the various countries of the world, each one crafted specifically to take an undeserved piece of Google’s pie, they won’t have any choice except to change their business model, preferably in a way that makes it clear once and for all that they are not the internet. The alternative will be bankruptcy. I know it’s hypothetical and seemingly unlikely at this point in time, but never say never (nor too big to fail). It will only be a matter of time until all search engines find themselves being forced to pay up or else.

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