Google Shows What Google News Looks Like If Article 11 Passes In The EU Copyright Directive
from the bye-bye-news-content dept
While much of the focus concerning the EU’s Copyright Directive have been about Article 13 and the censorship and mandatory filters it will require, an equally troubling part is Article 11, which will create a “snippet” tax on anyone who aggregates news and sends traffic back to the original sites (for free) without paying those news sites. This is dumb for all sorts of reasons, not the least of which is that this plan has been tried in both Germany and Spain, and failed miserably in both places. Indeed, studies in Spain showed that this law actually did tremendous harm to smaller news sites (which the EU insists this law is designed to help). The latest version we’ve seen in the EU Copyright Directive is even worse than the laws in Germany and Spain in that it is so vague and so unclear that it is possible to read them to say that using more than a single word will make the aggregator liable for the tax.
In Spain, as you may recall, when that law was passed, Google responded by turning off Google News in Spain entirely, saying that it was impossible to remain in the country under that law. As they noted (and which everyone pushing for these laws always ignores), Google actually doesn’t put any advertisements on Google News. It’s not monetizing it (despite lies from supporters of these laws that Google is “profiting” off of their work, when Google is actually sending traffic for free). So there were some questions about what Google would do with Google News in Europe if Article 11 becomes law.
The company has now hinted at its plans by leaking a beta test of what Google News would look like under Article 11. The answer? It would look almost entirely empty:
As you can see, because the tax applies to using any words from the articles, what a “compliant” Google News looks like is a Google News page where none of the content actually loads. All you get is the names of the publications and nothing else.
Of course, this is going to infuriate supporters of Article 11, who will insist that this is awful and some terrible game that Google is playing. But it’s their own fault for writing a law that says this is what you have to do. Supporters will again argue that this is not what they intended — instead, the whole point of Article 11 is to try to force Google to “license” the news it links to. But these leaked screenshots more or less highlight how the EU Copyright Directive is truly little more than a shakedown of Google. Basically, the entire point of the law is “Google, give money to failing newspapers, or we’ll force your News site to look like shit.” And Google is suggesting it might just call the EU’s bluff on this.
At the very least, this makes it clear that the entire point of the EU Copyright Directive — especially Articles 11 and 13 — are a weak attempt to say “Google is successful, therefore, Google should give a lot more of its money to companies that haven’t been successful in the internet age.” If the EU just named it “the tax Google because our own industries failed to innovate” Directive, it would at least be a bit more intellectually honest.