Failures

by Mike Masnick


Filed Under:
germany, google news, snippets

Companies:
google, vg media



German Publishers Grant Google A 'Free License' Google Never Needed To Post News Snippets

from the well-that-solves-that dept

Remember earlier this year when German newspaper publishers, led by rights management firm VG Media, demanded Google pay them a massive amount of money (11% of all ad revenue on any page linking to their works) for having the gall to send those publishers traffic via Google News? VG Media insisted that Google's use of "snippets" was illegal. German regulators rejected this demand, but VG Media was still pursuing legal efforts to force Google to pay. Given that, Google did what made the most sense and removed the snippets for VG Media associated publishers. You'd think that this would make VG Media happy. Instead, it claimed that Google was engaged in "blackmail."

Yes, VG Media claimed that using snippets was illegal, but getting rid of them was "blackmail." The logic of a legacy industry.

Taking that logic one step further, VG Media has now decided to (and I'm not making this up) grant Google a "free license" to let Google use the snippets. This whole thing was about money in the first place, and now VG Media isn't getting any money... and it looks ridiculous and foolish for having tried this in the first place. The end result is the same: snippets are in Google News, VG Media publications are getting traffic, but VG Media has made itself look silly.

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  • identicon
    Irving, 23 Oct 2014 @ 11:42am

    Don't do it, Google!

    Tell 'em to take their free license and shove it. Stick to just the headlines.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Oct 2014 @ 11:50am

    Is this 'free license' even legally binding? If it is, then I see VG Media trying to change the terms of their license as soon as it expires. Probably hoping Google doesn't notice the changes, and VG Media then sues Google for breach of licensing.

    That's what I'd do if I were VG Media.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Oct 2014 @ 11:52am

    The problem with this is that rights holders can now argue that another business cannot use snippets without obtaining this "free license", i.e., "Google has our permission, but you don't."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Oct 2014 @ 11:57am

    For all the talk about entitled pirates it's the copyright based industries that think everything should always go their way.

    They wanted not only to get free advertising for their product but to actually get paid for getting free advertisement for their product

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Lord Binky, 23 Oct 2014 @ 12:04pm

    Google needs to decline their offer. Either make them admit Google had a perfectly legitimate use all along, or let them deal with the consequences of their actions.

    Forcing Google to pay you for something that they pay no-one else for sounds alot more like blackmail than Google deciding the price of your information is too much for their use of it.

    Sheesh, it's like they some horrid hybrid of the "boy who cried wolf" and "wolf in sheeps clothing": "The wolf in boys clothing who cried wolf"

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 23 Oct 2014 @ 12:10pm

    The story so far...

    "Using snippets of our stories without paying us is criminal!"
    "Alright, well, we don't feel like paying you for them, so we'll just remove them shall we?"
    "That's blackmail!"

    (5-minutes later, after looking at the projected drop in traffic)

    "Hey, Google my friend, out of the kindness of our hearts, we've decided to grant you a free liscense to include those snippets, so why don't you be a pall and put those back in, yes?"

    I must say, as far as ways to get themselves out of the hole they dug, this one at least works decently, though they've still got to deal with all the egg on their face over their actions.

    Google should take them up on the offer, while making it abundantly clear that they still don't believe it's needed, as well as stating that if the 'license'(basically an agreement not to bring legal action) is ever revoked, the snippets will once more be removed.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 23 Oct 2014 @ 12:15pm

    Actually, after reading the other comments, I changed my mind, they are trying to set a precedent here where companies 'need' a license to use snippets, so Google should tell them to take a hike with their 'offer', and hold their ground until VG Media publicly admits that Google does not, and never did, need 'permission' for including the snippets.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 23 Oct 2014 @ 2:01pm

      Re:

      >that Google does not, and never did, need 'permission' for including the snippets.

      But they do. They created a special law for that, the LSR which translates to something like Accomplishment Protection Law. That law says that small parts of an article (length isnt defined in the law, 3words? 5 words? a sentence? who knows!) are protected for one year after their first publication. So if Google would use them it would be a copyright violation and because of that they do need a free licence/permission.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    AJ, 23 Oct 2014 @ 12:27pm

    The best move for Google, is to do nothing. If they accept the license, they are confirming the validity of the license. If they refuse the license, they appear anti-newspaper. I would advise they ignore VG Media, much the same way you would ignore a petulant child... let the courts do the talking.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Pragmatic, 27 Oct 2014 @ 6:37am

      Re:

      The trouble with that is that a) courts cost, and b) it could go either way, depending on how thick the judge is.

      If Google refuses the license and points out how VG Media's failure to understand how the internet and search engines work is the problem, it'll solve the problems it's having with the same issues in other countries. This unwarranted rent-seeking has got to stop.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    SolkeshNaranek (profile), 23 Oct 2014 @ 12:32pm

    "Silly"

    VG Media has made itself look silly


    "Silly" is such an inadequate word.

    I might have gone with "incredibly shortsighted, greedy jackasses"... but that's just me.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    dungeonlight, 23 Oct 2014 @ 12:38pm

    Google did it wrong !

    Google should have thrown all the news snippets of those publishers from the index and demand a lot of money – in form of a high fee – from them for putting the news snippets back on the index and keeping them there.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    SJ, 23 Oct 2014 @ 12:51pm

    Well, I guess the lobbying machinery will be ramped up again and lots of small black suitcases with "paper" in them will change hands in Berlin again...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Oct 2014 @ 1:09pm

    watching old people thrash around trying to fight technology and realizing it is useless used to be super entertaining now it's just sad.

    VG Media you are bad and you should feel bad.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 23 Oct 2014 @ 1:25pm

      Re:

      This is the typical nonsense we get from IP extremists and defenders. Where are all the shills around here defending this? Why don't they ever admit to the insane nature of so many IP defenders and for those responsible for pushing for these insane laws?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Oct 2014 @ 2:18pm

    Love it! VG Media lobbyed hard for a special law and now they don't use it but still the law is there.
    i.e. let's assume you want to create a site in German that talks about news articles and you take a small quotes from articles to make fun of them. Also because you want to cover the server cost you put a small ad on it or something that generates a bit of income.
    Now because of that great new law that isn't used for what it was intended for the newspaper or whoever owns the article you quoted can sue you for money.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Oct 2014 @ 3:45pm

    although it would be a bit costly, Google should now go back to court to get this 'license' deemed unnecessary and claim expenses be paid by VG Media. if Google just sits back now, VG Media will claim that everyone needs a license, using Google as the example. the fact that they 'gave Google the license for free' just means they were very generous in that instance.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Peter, 23 Oct 2014 @ 8:23pm

    Statutory loophole

    VG Media believes that publishers lose money one way or the other: either by generating revenue through Google-caused traffic but not receiving licensing fees from Google or by not receiving either. But, as this press release announcing the "free license" suggests (https://www.vg-media.de/images/stories/pdfs/presse/2014/141022_pm_vgmedia_gratiseinwilligung-google .pdf), VG Media believes that this situation was intentionally created by German lawmakers and that German lawmakers intend for this situation to be remedied by Google surrendering to the publishers a share of its revenue generated with snippets of so-called Presseerzeugnisse (press products): "Der Umgang Googles mit den VG Media Presseverlegern läuft der erklärten Absicht des Gesetzgebers bei der Einführung des Presseleistungsschutzrechts zuwider, wonach ein Ausgleich geschaffen werden sollte für die Übernahme der verlegerischen Leistungen durch Betreiber von Suchmaschinen" (roughly translated: "How Google has been dealing with VG Media press publishers runs contrary to the intention declared by lawmakers when they introduced the ancillary copyright, under which compensation is supposed to be rendered by search engine operators for their take-over of the labors of the press").

    If this understanding of the law and lawmakers' intentions is accurate (and I doubt that it is), it looks like a classic example of a statutory loophole and a declared intention of wanting to exploit it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      techflaws (profile), 23 Oct 2014 @ 10:01pm

      Re: Statutory loophole

      Also, they've explicetly stated that this license can be revoked at any time.

      Most people see this as a planned step in framing Google yet again as a dangerous monopoly.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 24 Oct 2014 @ 12:58pm

      Re: Statutory loophole

      Wow, so apparently the recording industry in Germany isn't the only group that's bought out the lawmakers, that is a blatantly protectionist law there, unfortunately for them, Google didn't play along with the plans.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        techflaws (profile), 24 Oct 2014 @ 10:18pm

        Re: Re: Statutory loophole

        Well, since Merkel dared to publicly state recentely (not in the 90s, mind you): "The Internet is still new territory for all of us", you know what her priorities are: to please the publishers so they don't report to critical of the government.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Mr. Oizo, 24 Oct 2014 @ 1:38am

    Shit

    The problem now of course are all other sites that didn't get that 'free license'. Nice move VG media

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Aussie Geoff (profile), 24 Oct 2014 @ 6:16am

    Just say no.

    Google should just say no and not display any snippets from any VG Media affiliates. Let VG Media deal with the lost traffic and reduced revenue themselves using their own resources.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    raimund (profile), 24 Oct 2014 @ 7:41am

    Free license

    Techdirt: I grant you a free license to report on this.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Oct 2014 @ 11:52am

    Let 'Em Die

    Chronological Summary Of VG Media Statements:
    1) Google is stealing our content - we demand to be paid.
    2) Google has stopped stealing our content - that's blackmail.
    3) We have to let Google steal our content or go out of business.

    Coming soon:
    4) We are lying, thieving morons - stop laughing at us.

    I'd like to see Google release a statement reporting their cessation of all links to VGM content, i.e., no links either from news snippets or search results for content - not even headlines - originating in domains of VGM members, with the explanation that the law is too vague about what is allowed. Google should make clear that it will not tolerate being described as an extortionistic monopoly, and has elected not to accept special license from VGM under the cloud of such characterization, since such acceptance would appear to affirm both extortion and monopolism at the expense of the rights of other Internet entities.

    This has the dual virtues of strangling VGM's free advertising and Internet existence to death and forcing clarification of the law.

    Finally, I'd hope that Google would return VGM to its news and search results ONLY if and when the law was clarified in a way that allows Google and everyone else to use snippets in the fashion Google had originally been doing without need of "license" from VGM.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Pragmatic, 27 Oct 2014 @ 6:39am

    ^This.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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