European News Publishers Still Believe They Have The Right To Make Google Pay For Sending Traffic Their Way

from the bad-arguments-and-bad-laws dept

The European Commission is still (slowly) moving forward with its plan to dump a link tax on service providers like Google, Facebook, etc. in hopes of propping up local news outfits. The plan has been in the works for a couple of years now and it's looking like the longer the planning goes on, the less likely it is to result in something that makes its advocates happy.

A long report from Politico details the current state of this doomed venture. And it is doomed. Even if implemented in a way that makes news outlets happiest, the end result will be less incoming traffic from some of the most-used sites in the world. Some news agencies aren't so sure this is the way forward.

“Other stakeholders are challenging the provision … questioning not only whether this is the best way of addressing concerns of press publishers vis-a-vis digital technologies, but also questioning whether the Commission proposal is adequately restricted to such concerns,” Therese Comodini Cachia, the Maltese rapporteur shepherding the proposal through Parliament, told POLITICO.

Translation: Opponents of the plan, including some small web publishers, worry it could choke traffic to their sites by creating a thicket of regulations that will dissuade Google and other platforms from driving users to them. These critics also argue that a publisher’s right will create a “link tax” (a phrase that supporters liken to a slur) but won’t achieve its backers’ main aim: to save the news sector’s broken business model.

That's the problem with short-sighted legislation like this: it fails to consider the options available to those hit with the link tax. And it's not as though there's no information available that indicates what the future would hold for supposed beneficiaries of the link tax. Past efforts in Spain and Belgium to institute a link tax (targeting Google) resulted in the search engine pulling out of the market by dumping any search results that might have resulted in tax liability.

Then there are the numerous ways it might affect the average computer user -- beyond finding fewer local articles on Facebook or fewer search results when Googling.

The plan’s loudest critic has been Green MEP Julia Reda. Originally elected as a member of the Pirate party, Reda’s encyclopedic knowledge of copyright has made her a respected adversary for the publishers. She’s shown a particular knack for condensing the legalese of copyright reform into alarmist soundbites. She has argued, for example, that the Commission proposal could affect how articles are shared on Twitter, something both the Commission and the publishers deny.

As is to be expected, the lack of forward progress is being blamed on Google. Proponents of the link tax are complaining about Google's lobbying efforts in Europe, as though the company should do nothing more than sit down, shut up, and start paying FOR DRIVING TRAFFIC TO THEIR WEBSITES.

Opponents of the tax say it's not up to the EC to force other companies to prop up struggling businesses. Those advocating for the tax say it's not up to the EC to question the soundness of their business decisions. It's about ownership… or so they claim.

The publishers counter that it’s not up to Parliament to analyze the merits of their commercial strategy. What’s at issue is a basic question of ownership, and the publishers say it is incumbent on legislators to protect their rights. In the pre-digital age, such protections weren’t necessary because news content didn’t fall victim to large-scale piracy. The internet, the publishers argue, has changed that because articles can be disseminated far and wide with a few clicks.

This attitude speaks directly to the concerns raised by Green MEP Julia Reda. The publishers view sharing as piracy -- a view not shared at all by millions of people who post links on social media and, again, help drive traffic to the sites. Very few people share news articles by taking entire posts and redistributing them through third parties. And Google -- the top target in the proposed legislation -- does nothing remotely approaching this bizarre definition of piracy with its links to sources and small snippets of article text.

That disconnect between what publishers feel is "right" and what the rest of the world believes is acceptable is yet another nail in this legislation's coffin. Even if it passes, it won't do what publishers hope it will. Google will stop linking to European content. People will find less and less local content being shared. And for all the complaining about Google's lobbying efforts, publishers have no problem touting their own as a reason the terrible proposed legislation might one day become law.

Despite the skepticism, the publishing lobby remains sanguine, confident that its deep political connections will ultimately see the legislation through.

“The news media sector is optimistic that policymakers agree on the need for a publishers’ right,” said Wout van Wijk, executive director of News Media Europe, a lobbyist for press publishers. “Such a right will create the legal certainty needed for further investments and innovation to guarantee a free and pluralistic media landscape in Europe.”

Granting this right won't fix publishers' problems. It might give them more ways to sue, but flagging new agencies can't be legislated back into fiscal health -- especially if it means levying taxes on US companies to prop up European entities. In the end, publishers may get what they THINK they want, but they won't be seeing any return on the lobbying investment. Anything that discourages the free (as in "open") dissemination of information tends to work out worst for those compiling the information. A link tax is just a band-aid to be applied to the internet's surface, unable to staunch the blood flow of the new publishing industry's internal wounds.


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  • icon
    PaulT (profile), 22 Feb 2017 @ 3:28am

    "Even if implemented in a way that makes news outlets happiest, the end result will be less incoming traffic from some of the most-used sites in the world."

    I would say *especially* if implemented in the way that (they think) will make them happiest. Google and others don't have to host their links, and history shows that they have no problem dumping them, leading them to whine about losing revenue.

    "Translation: Opponents of the plan, including some small web publishers, worry it could choke traffic to their sites by creating a thicket of regulations that will dissuade Google and other platforms from driving users to them"

    Shorter translation: "Erm, guys, we saw what happened in Spain, we'd rather have some traffic that's not monetised 100% than zero traffic from them".

    "The publishers view sharing as piracy"

    Don Quixote viewed windmills as giants. So what? They were still windmills.

    Again, this is the problem - they're either not dealing with reality, or they know they've got major problems and would rather force Google to pay them instead of fixing their broken model. Nobody "pirated" a newspaper by sharing it with friends, co-workers or cutting out snippets to share around. In fact, it was so well known that this happened that they built in the assumption that each copy would be read multiple times into their business model.

    They were successful - which is what happens when you build reality into your business model rather than fighting it off because you wish things worked differently. Now reality has changed again. Deal with it.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Feb 2017 @ 3:43am

    There is a trivial solution.

    Erm...
    robots.txt, anyone?

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

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 22 Feb 2017 @ 4:01am

      Re: There is a trivial solution.

      That always gets mentioned, but the fact is this - they don't want to stop Google et al from accessing their content. They simply want to force everyone to pay them, even if those links are increasing traffic anyway. They don't want to find new ways to monetise traffic, they just want to be paid for existing. Just look at their reaction when Google pulled out of certain countries - their reaction was to claim extortion because Google didn't want to pay the extra tax.

      So, while robots.txt is indeed an easy solution to stopping Google from indexing their content, that's not what they want. They simply want to be paid for doing nothing.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 22 Feb 2017 @ 4:29am

        Re: Re: There is a trivial solution.

        Of course they do want money for doing nothing, even if they do not say so. But then again - they have, at their disposal, a very simple and effective way of avoiding any "piracy" from Google and others. The hint here is - they are doing nothing to protect their "priceless" content, and they should be reminded of that. Repeatedly.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 22 Feb 2017 @ 5:37am

          Re: Re: Re: There is a trivial solution.

          doing nothing? do you have any idea of the cost of producing quality and independent journalism?

          A strong news media sector is the basic condition for well-functioning democracy. You might not agree with a publishers'right as such, but please let's not say that the news media industry does "nothing" or their content is "priceless".

          Instead, if you guys are happy with your alternative facts and kitten journalism, well - thats great news since this is what you going to get if we don't find a solution on how to monetise journalistic content online.

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

          • icon
            That One Guy (profile), 22 Feb 2017 @ 5:44am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: There is a trivial solution.

            Yeah, finding a way for them to be profitable is no-one's problem but their's. That a robust press may serve a valuable service does not give them the right to shake down others in order to keep the profits up, if they want the money to keep rolling in it's up to them to figure out how, without turning a symbiotic relationship into an unsupportable, parasitic one as they're attempting here.

            They're welcome to try different methods to keep the money rolling in, what they aren't welcome to do is try and screw over everyone else in the process.

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

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 22 Feb 2017 @ 5:50am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: There is a trivial solution.

              trust me it is also your problem but you will probably understand that when it is too late.

              Enjoy your dose of alternative facts.

              Best,
              That other guy

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

              • icon
                That One Guy (profile), 22 Feb 2017 @ 5:59am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: There is a trivial solution.

                Did you bother to read past the first sentence in my comment? Or did you somehow miss the whole 'just because they can serve a purpose doesn't give them the right to demand others step up to keep them profitable' bit?

                Once more with emphasis:

                They're welcome to try different methods to keep the money rolling in, what they aren't welcome to do is try and screw over everyone else in the process.

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

                • icon
                  Bergman (profile), 26 Feb 2017 @ 11:39am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: There is a trivial solution.

                  The AC doesn't need to read past your first sentence, he already has all the alternative facts he needs, why should he bother reading real ones?

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

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 22 Feb 2017 @ 8:13am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: There is a trivial solution.

                Alternative facts is on my right wing nutjob bingo sheet, thanks!

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

          • icon
            PaulT (profile), 22 Feb 2017 @ 5:57am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: There is a trivial solution.

            "doing nothing? do you have any idea of the cost of producing quality and independent journalism?"

            You miss the point. The cost and/or quality of the content is irrelevant to what's being pushed here.

            You're also lying to yourself if you think that forcing Google and Facebook to pay for the content will have any bearing on whether or not users of those services continue to fall for and share the crap content. In fact, forcing them to do so will lead to more of the real journalism going to the wayside.

            The industry has to work to adjust to the current reality of the marketplace - and demanding a tax from the people who help promote their content sure as hell isn't the way to do it.

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 22 Feb 2017 @ 6:05am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: There is a trivial solution.

            Asking for money for snippets prepared, presented and served by somebody else AND redirecting traffic to newspaper site IS asking money for doing nothing.
            A clue for you: if, after reading 5 sentence snippet, I do not go to read the rest, then the rest is worth nothing. No time here for click-baits.
            Another clue for you: do you realize, how much work it was to upkeep the horse carts? And yet - people switched to cars. Maybe nobody cared?

            I have given news outlets an easy solution: turn off indexing in robots.txt. All the problems gone - no google snippets, no "piracy". Why don't they?

            Oh, and one more thing: it's news outlets who claim their contents is "priceless". Point in case - attempt at some stupid law in Germany.

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 22 Feb 2017 @ 6:38am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: There is a trivial solution.

            if we don't find a solution on how to monetise journalistic content online

            Agreed. However, the proposed tax falls under the all-too-typical political approach:

            1. Something must be done!
            2. This is something.
            3. Therefore, this must be done!

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

            • icon
              PaulT (profile), 22 Feb 2017 @ 6:54am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: There is a trivial solution.

              Or, just as common:

              1. We're making a lot less money than we used to
              2. Google has lots of money!
              3. Let's blame Google and force them to pay us instead of finding a solution to the underlying problems

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 22 Feb 2017 @ 6:38am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: There is a trivial solution.

            "A strong news media sector is the basic condition for well-functioning democracy."

            and, apparently, you want government to assist in making it so ... this does not look right, what is wrong with this picture?

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 22 Feb 2017 @ 7:09am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: There is a trivial solution.

            do you have any idea of the cost of producing quality and independent journalism?

            It requires a smart phone, and a means of publishing on-line, coupled to an ability and time to do the back-up research. These days, almost all the support research can be done on line.

            That said, it can be expensive hiring journalists, and ensuring that they have access to politicians and their staff, so that they can parrot the party line.

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 22 Feb 2017 @ 7:46am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: There is a trivial solution.

            So I'm for the law and trying to force Google to PAY. Because they really want it both ways. For Google to show the links and be paid for doing that, which is in fact helping them far, far more then not posting the links.

            Even though a simple robots.txt file would completely STOP Google for grabbing a single thing from your site. So I'm all for this law, and then Google and do what they did in the other countries and drop all the news and have no links to any of it. Problem is solved either way. Do a robots.txt file or create a law and Google just drops you. Of course all the news company's against the dumb law are now pissed because their traffic also dropped way off. Who is hurt more? It's not Google.

            Really, if you can't see trying to force this business model doesn't work, then there's nothing in the world to fix you and you'll fail. Anyone with a brain higher then 10 IQ points knows trying to force Google to pay is going to fail and hurt YOU not Google.

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

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 22 Feb 2017 @ 8:12am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: There is a trivial solution.

              What happens when every link anybody posting to the net is accompanied by a tax?
              Such a tax could turn the net into a means for corporate publishers to have their own island of content, for those who can afford to pay for it.

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

            • icon
              Bergman (profile), 26 Feb 2017 @ 11:46am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: There is a trivial solution.

              Assuming the publishers get everything they want, the result would be absurdist if it were not so horrific. The publishers want to be paid for someone linking to their stuff AND they consider pulling out of the market to be extortion?

              It would be illegal to link to anything you have not paid for. It would be illegal to not link to something that you must pay for. There would be no requirement to actually have content, but the laws would require links.

              Virtually overnight, to comply with the law, every website in Europe will become nothing but a long page of links to every pay-walled site in Europe, hundreds of thousands to millions of links per page, with no actual content whatsoever.

              Because no company will be able to afford to pay anyone to write that content, all the money will go to aggregating links.

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

          • icon
            Bergman (profile), 26 Feb 2017 @ 11:38am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: There is a trivial solution.

            There were times when the Mafia and Yakuza served useful purposes. Does that mean that law enforcement should leave them alone now, when they have become parasites?

            Print newspapers once served a useful purpose too -- and still could if they chose to -- but at least the EU ones have decided to be parasites instead.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 Feb 2017 @ 4:41am

      Re: There is a trivial solution.

      They are trying to implement the big content solution to making a profit, force others to collect money from people on their behalf. Such a business model hide just how greedy they are being.

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

  • identicon
    Yes, I know I'm commenting anonymously, 22 Feb 2017 @ 3:58am

    less traffic to Techdirt?

    Depending on the wording of the proposal, I might be forced to stop sharing links to Techdirt articles, since I live in the EU.
    Therefore this would also cost this site a few visitors.

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

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 22 Feb 2017 @ 4:30am

      Re: less traffic to Techdirt?

      Depends on how idiotic they want to be.

      If they go the Belgium/'Incredibly stupid' route and simply rule that excerpts aren't allowed unless they're paid for, then TD could easily hand out a 'Anyone can link to any of our stuff for free' blanket permission, and the problem with regards to TD is bypassed.

      If they go the Spain/'My head just exploded due to how unbelievably stupid this is' route and make the payments mandatory, such that sites cannot simply give permission then yeah, that could be a problem.

      While the latter is without a doubt the more boneheaded choice out of a pair of incredibly stupid ideas, it is the one that isn't trivial to bypass, which means it's likely that that is the one the publishers are going to be pushing to have implemented should this stunning display of shortsighted greed be put into law.

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

  • identicon
    Tin-Foil-Hat, 22 Feb 2017 @ 4:29am

    Ridiculous

    Imagine having to pay a fee every time you told someone about a book you've read, a movie you've watched or a restaurant you've eaten at.

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

  • identicon
    David, 22 Feb 2017 @ 4:40am

    Tim, you don't get it

    European News Publishers Still Believe They Have The Right To Make Google Pay For Sending Traffic Their Way

    And the headline is already right. The news publishers don't believe they have the right to make Google pay, they want the right to make Google pay.

    Now every right and law comes with unintended consequences, so you cannot just make a law for letting Google pay publishers unconditionally: it would likely cause a lot of people to have to pay lots of other people unconditionally.

    So Spain tried to link the payments to linking to websites, because linking is what Google does.

    So Google stopped doing that. Which is sort of an obvious outcome, just not the desired one.

    Basically the publishers are fighting for the right to point a gun at their feet and pull the trigger, in the expectation that this will put them in a position where they can sue the gun manufacturers for negligence. So they got the right in Spain to lawfully point a gun at their feet and pull the trigger and now Google refuses to sell them guns.

    Naturally, that's not the end game. The end game is that everybody should point guns at their feet and pull the trigger so that Google will just hand over their guns as a present (and thus without liability).

    However, Google apparently prefers the "molon labe" approach.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 Feb 2017 @ 5:30am

      Re: Tim, you don't get it

      _Basically the publishers are fighting for the right to point a gun at their feet and pull the trigger, in the expectation that this will put them in a position where they can sue the gun manufacturers for negligence._

      That's not even half of it. The publishers are fighting for the right to point a gun at their feet, in the expectation that they will not end up with a tarsal-shattering hole, and someone else will have to suffer the agony and medical bill.

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

  • icon
    Andrew Cook (profile), 22 Feb 2017 @ 5:16am

    Let's look at what the media companies are giving up by making this request:

    • Google News/Bing News links
    • "Smart snippets" in organic Google/Bing/Yahoo searches
    • Twitter/Facebook cards
    • Skype/iMessage cards
    • Cortana/Siri/Google Now integration
    • Link previews in GMail/Outlook.com/Yahoo Mail
    • Pretty much everything else that uses the Open Graph metadata they enthusiastically provide

    In short, everything that makes people want to click the link, or helps them discover that those articles exist. I wonder how they'll feel when they have to tell their advertisers that "social media engagement" is down 80-90%...

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

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 22 Feb 2017 @ 5:37am

      Re:

      Ah but you see, if they can stop people from getting their news from that infernal 'internet' novelty then surely people will go back to buying physical newspapers, and their coffers will once more overflow with gold and jewels as people are once more forced to get their news from them or not at all!

      It's foolproof, what could possibly go wrong?

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

  • icon
    TheResidentSkeptic (profile), 22 Feb 2017 @ 6:22am

    Unfortunately, Eventual doesn't equal Imminent

    When your business model is based 100% on a captive audience, and that audience escapes your captivity, there is damn little that will keep supporting that business model. Eventually, they will figure that out. Until then, we will just be entertained by a bunch of silly laws and enjoy watching the unintended consequences - until enough real damage is done to cause the revolution to begin.

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

    • identicon
      Wendy Cockcroft, 22 Feb 2017 @ 7:18am

      Re: Unfortunately, Eventual doesn't equal Imminent

      I don't understand why they don't spend all the money they're throwing at this on buying shares in Google. Wouldn't that solve the problem of being paid a share of the profits Google makes by showing snippets and links in the search results and aggregators?

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 Feb 2017 @ 7:33am

      Re: Unfortunately, Eventual doesn't equal Imminent

      >until enough real damage is done to cause the revolution to begin.

      If too much damage is done, most people will be isolated from the revolutionaries, and one set of tyrants will be replaced by another. Those with a strong desire to change politics will always find a way to communicate, but they also fall for the needs of the people justify all actions line of politics..

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

  • icon
    Roger Strong (profile), 22 Feb 2017 @ 7:25am

    So European news outfits are demanding Right to Die and Right to be Forgotten legislation.

    Why doesn't Techdirt stick to Tech stories?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Feb 2017 @ 7:55am

    The EC would be well to take to heart what happened in Spain if they make a binding law requiring this. Google, et al will pull out if an onerous law like this passes. Not only that, it would strangle any real chance of a European based replacement because it'd be taxed to death. But go ahead, just don't complain when your nose has to be sewn back on.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Feb 2017 @ 8:06am

    Legal Certainty Accomplished

    "Such a right will create the legal certainty needed for further investments and innovation to guarantee a free and pluralistic media landscape in Europe."

    The certainty, legal and otherwise, is the death of the newspaper model and the uplifting of the online news model. It's unfortunate in some ways, since the larger newspaper-derived media outlets have well-established and usually vetted journalists and standards. The younger, independent and blog-oriented news community must and no doubt will mature ever more swiftly as the old publishers decline. The online blogger newsies are more frequently a bit less able to produce the breadth and depth of coverage - for now. The touted pluralism will be among vast numbers of increasingly well-adapted Internet news providers in the absence of the outmoded, news publishers.

    It's a shame that the majority of big publishing organizations have not incorporated the Internet as a distribution channel. They have all the other resources. Search engine aggregators, e.g., Google, have been funneling traffic to them at no charge. The news groups have not even had to pay personnel, third-party or in-house, to promote SEO placement - it just happened, optimally and for free by Google. The cluelessness is astounding.

    In the long run - no longer all that long, I suspect - the newspaper industry and its stunted, twisted children die...the Internet news industry prospers. I expect some of the smaller, more agile, old-school publishers to evolve and adapt, outliving their inflexibly incompetent, gigantically dinosaurian competitors. Investing any other way to promote innovation in the newspaper model is silly.

    One prediction - when Google aggregates and promotes an Internet news publisher that operates with a correct grasp of contemporary Internet principles, there will be no screams demanding a link tax.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Feb 2017 @ 8:07am

    Legal Certainty Accomplished

    "Such a right will create the legal certainty needed for further investments and innovation to guarantee a free and pluralistic media landscape in Europe."

    The certainty, legal and otherwise, is the death of the newspaper model and the uplifting of the online news model. It's unfortunate in some ways, since the larger newspaper-derived media outlets have well-established and usually vetted journalists and standards. The younger, independent and blog-oriented news community must and no doubt will mature ever more swiftly as the old publishers decline. The online blogger newsies are more frequently a bit less able to produce the breadth and depth of coverage - for now. The touted pluralism will be among vast numbers of increasingly well-adapted Internet news providers in the absence of the outmoded, news publishers.

    It's a shame that the majority of big publishing organizations have not incorporated the Internet as a distribution channel. They have all the other resources. Search engine aggregators, e.g., Google, have been funneling traffic to them at no charge. The news groups have not even had to pay personnel, third-party or in-house, to promote SEO placement - it just happened, optimally and for free by Google. The cluelessness is astounding.

    In the long run - no longer all that long, I suspect - the newspaper industry and its stunted, twisted children die...the Internet news industry prospers. I expect some of the smaller, more agile, old-school publishers to evolve and adapt, outliving their inflexibly incompetent, gigantically dinosaurian competitors. Investing any other way to promote innovation in the newspaper model is silly.

    One prediction - when Google aggregates and promotes an Internet news publisher that operates with a correct grasp of contemporary Internet principles, there will be no screams demanding a link tax.

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

  • icon
    Peter (profile), 22 Feb 2017 @ 8:35am

    "free and pluralistic media landscape in Europe"

    An interesting goal for a community that screams blue murder when the White House suggests it might stop hand-feeding them printable news bites.

    Pluralistic? When they all print the government line, in minor variations? Free, when they believe that their survival depends on government-handouts ('Link-Tax' is just another word for government subsidy, or, less friendly, government bribes for presenting our leaders in a favorable light).

    Ironically, free and pluralistic is what they are trying to destroy with their link - tax: For the first time in centuries, everybody has a platform to publish their information, their view of the world. Some may be fake, some may be questionable - and we all need to learn how to manage this flood of information. Many of the blogs are good reporting, and the fact that Joe Average now has the same or better sources than the 'quality media' is the biggest achievement of the internet - and the biggest threat to publishers and governments.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Feb 2017 @ 8:40am

    Didn't they do this in Germany a few years ago and the publishers who wanted to survive decided to let google link to them because of the traffic drop?

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

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 22 Feb 2017 @ 5:08pm

      Re:

      Germany, Belgium and Spain so far, with the last going above and beyond in their idiocy-that-might-have-been-intentional, and effectively forcing Google to pull out of the country.

      (Regarding the Spain debacle, as several comments pointed out at the time while all sites took a huge hit in traffic, the larger sites were much more able to weather the loss, whereas the smaller competing sites might not have been able to. And of course the group that pushed the legislation was representing... the larger publishers.)

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Feb 2017 @ 11:43am

    They don't "believe". They just want money.

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

  • icon
    Spaceman Spiff (profile), 22 Feb 2017 @ 11:44am

    Two way street

    These publishers have to realize that if they are going to get paid for Google to link search results to their sites, then it should be ok for Google to charge them for including their sites on its search results. IE, you pay Google for including you, or you are left out. Yeah, and Google should charge double of what these idiots are asking...

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

  • identicon
    John, 22 Feb 2017 @ 2:35pm

    Link tax both ways

    Maybe the USA should charge a link tax to mirror what the EU is proposing. i.e. the publishers would be required to pay Google etc to link to their site. The law would only apply to countries that had a link tax. The reason for this. Well in the paper days, the paper boy had to deliver & was paid to do so. The is just a delivery fee. Everyone has a right to get paid don't they?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Feb 2017 @ 5:02pm

    Painful situations, no clear paths

    The issue is journalism, it's costs to generate in the way it has always been done, and sources of income. (I like problem statements, it can help finding solutions.)

    Now, when electricity came to the forefront, it spelled doom for the lamp oil suppliers, and a tectonic shift for the lamp makers. Similarly, when automobiles became common, buggy whip makers had to shift focus.

    None filed suit in court to turn back innovation, none tried and succeeded to impose a tax as RIAA did on writable computer media to subsidize their business model that had collapsed on them. (It didn't, not really, just changed).

    In a like way to RIAA, journalism changed. In fact, it changed before the internet when conglomerates stopped considering news as "something we must do as a civic duty" and started looking to it as a profit center, and you know, demanding profits. The internet did not start that shift, but neither did it help.

    The attempt to monetize journalism via regulation would be to enthrone it in a government granted, government regulated, government enforced monopoly. I don't see any other result possible. And as we well know from experience, looking to government is solve problems while remaining non-partisan can, and often is, fraught with peril. Sooner or later some politician will find the levers to pull to make it geek in his or her favor, or at least to the disfavor of his perceived opponent.

    Neither can we completely rely on enlightened self interest overmuch, as evidenced by the reduced funding found that way.

    At issue is that journalism is an intangible, and while intangibles are easy to keep in stock, their value to an individual is incremental and variable. A set price is to foreclose some markets, and a variable price if known will depress marketability in others, at least to an extent. After all, I may not be disturbed to find I paid $10 more for something than my neighbor, but that is not commonplace.

    Micropayment services to allow for small payments has been tried. I don't recall seeing any great success there.

    Subscription services have been found to lack enough scope to fully fund at the desired level.

    Ad supported has been found to compromise journalistic integrity while simultaneously annoying almost everyone and at times placing visitors at risk of malicious infection. Besides, a learned and reasoned article on almost any subject looses at least some of it's serious intent when paired with a ad for, say, sex toys, synthesized realistic dog poop gag gifts, or tarot readings.

    One thing is clear however, is that participation by the audience is desirable. As an example, see the slight but undeniable reduction in traffic for sites such as CNN, NPR and others when they stopped allowing online reader comment.

    Another problem is the indistinguishable nature of journalism. The average reader is quite happy to read a blog post on something they care about quite as much as they would if it were written by a learned, trained, and professional journalist. With the rise in popularity of such sites as breitbart and infowars, arguably they are happier to gobble slop rather than feast at the table of reason, facts and logic. In other words, the customer has changed from Wall Street Journal and New York Times to National Enquirer and World News Now. As much as I bemoan that selection, it will not change it.

    So much for problem identification, on to target selection.

    Find ways to show that the breitbart, infowars and their ilk ultimately hurts their consumers.

    Highlight how professional journalism helps the reader

    Monetizing that is unfortunately where my analysis washes up on the rocky shores of the possible and desirable. At best, I echo "Connect with Fans" and "Reason to Buy". Hey, if it were easy, I'd be rich.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Feb 2017 @ 5:37pm

    Constantly debating crap like this is surely one of the reasons so many countries want out of the EU. Doesn't the EU have better / more important things to discuss?

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

  • icon
    Cerberus (profile), 23 Feb 2017 @ 11:07am

    I mostly agree with the article, but Reda is a member of the German Pirate Party, not of the German Green Party. It's just that the Pirate Party is coöperating with other parties, amongst which the Green Party, under the umbrella of the larger, pan-European group/coalition of parties called "Greens–European Free Alliance". The latter is not itself a party. Arr!

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

  • identicon
    GOD OF ALL UNIVERSE IN DESCEND IN A MAN., 2 Mar 2017 @ 7:53am

    publication or films/videos.

    I GOD OF ALL AS A DESCEND OF THE THEY AS A WE AS A D.A.S.ASS AS A WE AS A D.DHAN/OUR-MONEIS AS A DACOITY AS A WE AS A JUSTINU.N. WITH A RIGHT AS A WE AS A D.THEY ASS.THE U.N. IN GENEVA AS A COURT OF THE UNION AS A WE AS A DIRECTS AS A WE AS A WERE.ASSED AS A.S. MURDERERS AS ASYLVIA JUDGE OF THE COURT ON THE JOB OF THEP.M. INDIA SAID FALSELY AS WEW ASA DIRECT AS A IMPERSONATORS AS A TWO AS A A.S. AS A MURDER AS A CYANIDE AS A DROP INSTIL AS A DIRE AS A STIFFER ASS .OUR CARDS AS A SUPER AS A WE AS A DIRECT SOWERS AS A WE AS A DIRES AS A GOD AS A MAN AS A WAS A CAUSE AS A PROSPERITY BROUGHT BY WE THE GODS AS A HE AS A WORK ASA SINGLE HANDED AS A WE ASA CONNECT AS A ONLY IN THE COURAGEOUSMOST LIFE SACRIFICING AS RECOGNISED AS A WE AS A DIRECT AS A WE GIVING A WAY TO ALL TWO THIRTY ONE LINE THOUGHT..OF YOUR PLANET STARTING FROM HE AS A LONE AS A WE.THE GOD AS A SUBMIT BEING DACOITED AS A TWENTY THREE PERCENT BY POLICERS AS A WE AS A DIRE ASA SINDH ASAA PAKISTANI HASLE.OUR ENEMIES AS A GIVERS AS A SEVENTY SEVEN PERCENT OF WRITTEN THREE TIMES LOWER AS A REGISTREE..LOOSING THE WE AS A FREEDOM TO THEE AS A WE AS A SLEEP IN THE THEIR ASS AS A FURFURAL,CHLOROPICRIN,ISOTHIOCYANATE FRONTALS AS A DIRES AS A WE'S AS A SECLUDER AS A LIVED A HOUSE AWAY AS A NON BELIEVER AS A POLICE AS A IN INCURSE FOR TAKING OUR INTRODUCTION TO FOOL A PRIME MINISTER INDIRA GANDHI WHICH THEY TOGETHER GOT MURDERED AS A OPPONENTS OF GOD.THEY ONLY MURDER SONIA GANDHI A LEADER IN INDIA WITH A RAPE A DAY TILL DATE TO CATCH HER POTENTIAL ASA ASSED AS A INDIVIDUAL AS A THEEKRIS AS A WE AS A DEARS AS A WE AS A INTERESTED AS A SHE'S ASS AS A WE'S AS A D.DHAN/MONIES AS A THIRTY POINT THREE AS A HEPTILLION AS A WE AS A D.THEY MURDERED TEN MORE AS A WE AS A D.THREE CRORE AS A NILLION AS A SURE AS A WE'S DESCRIBES WILL BE. GOD.

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


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