German Publishers Still Upset That Google Sends Them Traffic Without Paying Them Too; File Lawsuit
from the your-honor,-how-dare-they-send-us-traffic dept
Oh boy. Remember VG Media? That’s the consortium of German news publishers who were so damn angry that Google News sends them all sorts of traffic without also paying them. A year and a half ago, they demanded money from Google. That failed, so they went crying to German regulators who laughed off the request. After there were some concerns that a new “ancillary copyright” right regime in Germany might require payment for posting such snippets, Google properly responded by removing the snippets for those publishers, who totally freaked out and called it blackmail.
Let me repeat that for you, in case you missed it: the publishers insisted that Google’s News search was somehow illegal and taking money away from them, and thus they demanded money from Google. When Google responded, instead, by removing the snippets providing summaries to their stories, the publishers claimed it was unfair and blackmail. In short, not only do these German publishers want Google to pay them to send them traffic, they want such payments and traffic to be mandatory.
However, with Google removing the snippets, VG Media granted a “free” license to Google just to get the snippets back into Google News — even though Google didn’t need such a license. Meanwhile, they complained to German competition authorities about this supposed “blackmail” and like the earlier regulators, the German competition authorities told VG Media to go pound sand.
If you thought the situation was over, you underestimated the short-sightedness of VG Media and the German publishers. They’ve now apparently filed a lawsuit against Google over all this, taking the issue into court. Again: this is all because Google is sending their websites traffic… for free.
Meanwhile, these geniuses at the German publishers might want to actually play out this game strategy a little further. Should they actually win the case, they need to look no further than Spain to see what might happen. Remember, Spain passed a ridiculous law that not only put such a tax on aggregators but made it mandatory. It was clearly nothing more than a “Google tax” for Spanish publishers. Google’s response? It pulled out the nuclear option and shut down Google News in Spain.
So even if VG Media and the German publishers “win” this lawsuit, there’s a decent chance that they still end up shooting themselves in their collective foot, by pushing away one of the most popular news aggregators that drives a tremendous amount of traffic. It really makes you wonder about the thought process of the folks who run VG Media.