Push Resumes For An EU Google Tax, With The Bulgarian Government Leading The Way

from the bad-ideas-never-die dept

When an idea fails, legislators resurrect it. The problem must not be with the idea, they reason. It must be with the implementation. So it goes in Europe, where the Bulgarian government is trying to push an idea that has demonstrably failed elsewhere on the continent.

Should the EU introduce an extra copyright for news sites, restricting how we can share news online? The controversy around this plan continues to brew – this time in the Council, where the member state governments are trying to find a consensus.

[...]

The Bulgarian Council Presidency is pushing what it calls a new compromise, instead of the choice of two options that their Estonian predecessors offered.

But upon closer investigation, the “compromise” looks mighty familiar: With exceptions for very short snippets and non-commercial use by individuals, as well as a shorter protection term than the Commission wanted, it looks much like the current German “ancillary copyright”, which almost all experts agree has been an abject failure.

The failure of snippet taxes/Google taxes is well documented, but never seems to deter further legislative efforts in the same direction. Google reacted to the initiative by dropping snippets from German news agencies, a move that produced a noticeable drop in traffic. German publishers called it "blackmail," but the simplest way to comply with bad laws is to opt out. Similar things happened in Spain with its snippet tax. Google nuked its local Google News service, resulting in affected publishers demanding the government force Google to re-open the service and start sending them traffic/money.

This push in the EU Commission for a snippet tax deliberately ignores research showing link taxes don't work, harm publishers, and are opposed by many of the journalists who would supposedly benefit from it. This is more than cherry-picking facts to support a Google tax. Pirate Party EU Parliament member Julia Reda (who wrote the post quoted above) previously uncovered reports the Commission tried to bury, including one that showed news aggregation services like Google News were a net benefit for listed publications.

At this point, it looks as though some form of snippet tax will eventually become EU law. Only half of the member countries oppose snippet taxes, and only a few of those are actively fighting the proposal. If it does become law, it won't work out the way publishers believe it will. Instead, it will harm smaller publishers and smaller aggregators, resulting in a consolidation of power for the largest publishers and platforms. The EU has no leverage in this battle. Google won't hang around for long if the situation is unprofitable and publishers will have to settle for taxing Yahoo, Bing, etc. for whatever traffic these search engines manage to send their way.


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 5 Feb 2018 @ 2:17am

    Define 'work'

    If it does become law, it won't work out the way publishers believe it will.

    If you assume they're just making a cash-grab, then no. On the other hand...

    Instead, it will harm smaller publishers and smaller aggregators, resulting in a consolidation of power for the largest publishers and platforms.

    From the perspective of the larger publishers who are currently losing eyes and attention(and money, though not as much as they seem to think they'd get) to the alternatives that looks pretty effective to me.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 5 Feb 2018 @ 4:28am

      Re: Define 'work'

      Instead, it will harm smaller publishers and smaller aggregators, resulting in a consolidation of power for the largest publishers and platforms.

      I, too, suspect that is the true purpose.

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

      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 5 Feb 2018 @ 4:43am

        Re: Re: Define 'work'

        Oh not the only one I imagine, they probably see it as a win-win either way. Either Google pays them for snippets, or Google does in the EU what they've done elsewhere and the smaller, competing services get hammered as a result. From that perspective either way is a win for them.

        What I hope happens, barring the ideal of having the idea die a horrible death, is that they botch the wording such that Google and other companies can easily just de-list anyone who doesn't give them permission to include links/snippets and waive any fees(if only there was some easy way to do that, some robotic form of coding they could use...), such that anyone who gets greedy quickly discovers that rather than having a leg up over the competition, they've instead shot themselves right in the foot and are worse off.

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

    • identicon
      David, 8 Feb 2018 @ 2:57pm

      Re: Define 'work'

      Regulatory Capture. Use regulations to stifle competition. Wait until the smaller players go out of business, then have the law overturned.

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

  • icon
    Bt Garner (profile), 5 Feb 2018 @ 3:56am

    I can't, tell is this stupid legislators doing the bidding of big media, or stupid legislators just simply doing stupid things? Not that the two are mutually exclusive, or anything.

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

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 5 Feb 2018 @ 6:47am

      Re:

      It's probably both. The publishers can't admit to their shareholders that it's their poor work & planning that have led to falling revenue, so they blame Google. Legislators are easily led by the lies and/or have a platform they want to grandstand from that ties in nicely. Since the trend is for corporations not to look far past this quarter's growth and for politicians to not look past the next election cycle,. they'll collude without really thinking about the long term consequences of what they are suggesting. Even if they both understand them, which is often not the case.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Feb 2018 @ 4:04am

    Then Google News will just do without Bulgaria, like Spain and Germany before it. (Then watch them squirm...)

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Feb 2018 @ 4:31am

    Publishers worrying that Google might profit off of content they didn't create is rich seeing as how newspapers exist primarily to write about events they didn't create.

    Anyone know the Bulgarian words for "pot" and "kettle"?

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 5 Feb 2018 @ 5:04am

      Re:

      Publishers worrying that Google might profit off of content they didn't create is rich

      Especially as the profit from the traffic that Google sends them, and they know it because they do not use robots.txt to stop the search engines using snippets in search results.

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

      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 5 Feb 2018 @ 5:32am

        Re: Re:

        and they know it because they do not use robots.txt to stop the search engines using snippets in search results.

        And that little tidbit right there absolutely demolishes the 'The big bad Google is unfairly stealing our profits!' whining they engage in.

        They can stop Google from linking to them with a trivial amount of work, in fact as I understand it the system even allows them to keep being listed under Google's main search and not show up in Google News, yet for all that wailing and gnashing of teeth they do not do so, with the obvious explanation being that they want to show up on the service, they just want to be paid too.

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

    • icon
      JoeCool (profile), 5 Feb 2018 @ 5:19am

      Re:

      • seeing as how newspapers exist primarily to write about events they didn't create.

      Hmm - change didn't to don't normally and you'll be better here. Seem to remember NBC and CBS News doing a bit of creative fiction over the years. ;)

      Not that I'm saying ABC or anyone else doesn't, but the biggest works of fiction I can remember off-hand were those two.

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

      • icon
        Toom1275 (profile), 5 Feb 2018 @ 6:59am

        Re: Re:

        Or 60% of Fox's content (the other 40% being opinion).

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 5 Feb 2018 @ 7:23am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Try CNN, and the worst of them all, MSNBC. Talking about 100% fiction over there.

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

          • icon
            Richard (profile), 5 Feb 2018 @ 7:32am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Never let the facts get in the way of a good story!

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

            • icon
              PaulT (profile), 5 Feb 2018 @ 7:45am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              It's telling that in just a couple of posts the conversation has suddenly leapt from being about Bulgarian publishers perhaps not creating all the content they report upon (as per the OP) to a bunch of dickheads whining about which American TV news station they distrust the most.

              American partisan idiots really are killing any reasonable discourse, even on subjects that have sod all to do with US politics.

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

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 5 Feb 2018 @ 7:50am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                What makes you think they are 'merians?

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

                • icon
                  PaulT (profile), 5 Feb 2018 @ 8:11am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  Occam's Razor. People on a US-based site whining about American news sources in a manner that detracts from a conversation about other parts of the world are usually more likely to be Americans than not in my experience. Other explanations exist, but the likely reality is that's what they are.

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

                  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
                    identicon
                    Anonymous Coward, 5 Feb 2018 @ 1:12pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                    Oh look, PaulT is trying to sound smarter than he is.

                    "What makes you think they are 'merians?"

                    Should be responded to with the word "Deduction" as it is more concise and appropriate than using a principal.

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

                    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
                      identicon
                      Anonymous Coward, 5 Feb 2018 @ 3:45pm

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                      Oh look an effete cunt is trying to sound smarter then it is, by being pedantic, how droll.

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

                    • icon
                      PaulT (profile), 6 Feb 2018 @ 1:53am

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                      "Oh look, PaulT is trying to sound smarter than he is"

                      Did I get anything wrong, or did I confuse you by usual real terminology again? I apologise yet again if I actually know what I'm talking about, unlike some fools who comment here obsessively.

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

      • icon
        The Wanderer (profile), 5 Feb 2018 @ 7:41am

        Re: Re:

        Even there, that's not writing about events that they created; it's writing about events that didn't happen.

        Newspapers writing about events that they created would be the written equivalent of (say) "Next, on CNN: CNN is attempting to buy out ABC. We'll bring you the latest details.". The news organization (or at least its parent company) created the event, and now it is covering that event.

        Or perhaps a journalist or editor inciting a riot, and then reporting on that riot, might also qualify. It's a bit more of a remove, but I think still close enough to fit.

        (Note that I'm making these hypothetical stories up entirely out of whole cloth! Any resemblance to real-world events is entirely coincidental; I just haven't done any checking.)

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Feb 2018 @ 5:04am

    So, who in the Bulgarian govt has accepted a bribe to try to get this failed object back into the frame? You can bet your ass tgat it isnt being done for free! Next, why fo any of the publishers etc think that doing this is going to be of such brnefit to tgem ehen sctually, what tgey dhould ve doing is discovering a bd reporting on news items that are of interest to as many people/outlets as possible. This ridiculous attitude of 'we are entitled to do fuck sll, ever, but still be paid a fortune for it' all stems back to stupid US judges bending over and grabbing ankles for Hollywood and the other entertainment industries! Publishers are just trying to get yet another free ride by jumping on the same band wagon! Lets hope this, like other attempts at the same, falls flat, the instigator is exposed for being yet another corrupt official and news continues to be reported as it should, as free news!

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

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 5 Feb 2018 @ 5:25am

    I fully support this idea, as long as every publisher who serves up malware, badware, insane tracking tech has to pay users affected by their shitty ad decisions.

    Their drop in viewers isn't so much Google, as it is they have fallen into the gatekeeper model of we always made money & if we aren't it is someone elses fault. We haven't done things that annoy & attack our users, those are the fault of the ad networks we give space to.

    They can block being indexed, but none of them seem to.
    It seems they get a benefit, but not enough of a benefit to suit them.

    It reminds me of the RIAA saying how awesome it was that Spotify was profitable and they were going to raise their cut to 98% of the income. (No it wasn't this bad, but I made a snarky comment at the time that did well).

    We want to cut the golden goose open so we can get the eggs faster, ignoring that cutting the goose open means no more golden eggs.

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

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 5 Feb 2018 @ 5:36am

      Re:

      I fully support this idea, as long as every publisher who serves up malware, badware, insane tracking tech has to pay users affected by their shitty ad decisions.

      Eh, that would be a start, but if someone providing you a benefit can be charged for the privilege, I'd say it only fair that they pay google for the traffic it sends them. They are clearly benefiting from the traffic(just listen to the whining when they lost it in other countries), so it seems only right that they pay for the privilege of being on google's service/site.

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

      • icon
        Hugo S Cunningham (profile), 5 Feb 2018 @ 11:29am

        How to convince EU regulators of Google's value [Was Re: Re:

        > I'd say it only fair that they pay google for the traffic >it sends them.

        EU regulators could expropriate Google's newsreader function and convert it into a regulated public monopoly. At that point, the social justice of charging media sites for links and traffic would suddenly become obvious.

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

      • icon
        That Anonymous Coward (profile), 7 Feb 2018 @ 4:54am

        Re: Re:

        I just grow weary of the constant blaming of Google for their stupid actions.
        Oh we served up ransomware for 6 months & ignored consumers telling us... because its not OUR fault its the fault of the ad network.

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

  • identicon
    PH13, 5 Feb 2018 @ 6:59am

    If I was Google I do the reverse, make then pay to be in google news selling it as a publicity service in a way that it nulls the tax.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 5 Feb 2018 @ 7:56am

      Re:

      If I were google, I would ask for enough extra to turn a profit and make the linking benefit google again. If the dumb gatekeepers want to punish google, google can punish them right back by ignoring them until they are paid to do otherwise.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Feb 2018 @ 8:11am

    Rewright

    What is to prevent Google from simply having software read an article (or articles) and then rewrite it (them and combine them into one) using different words and style then publishing it under it own copyright.

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

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 5 Feb 2018 @ 8:13am

      Re: Rewright

      There's not really any value in that for them. Google don't directly monetise their news service, so it's easier for them to just block a country than try to do that (which may get them in actual trouble if found out).

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

    • icon
      Toom1275 (profile), 5 Feb 2018 @ 12:28pm

      Re: Rewright

      Because the whole point of the snippet is to show a tiny view of the actual articpe the link goes to, so that the user has a little info about what they're clicking on. Rewriting it destroys that function.

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

  • identicon
    The Dude (the Other one), 5 Feb 2018 @ 9:37am

    Why don't they just use AI?

    So why don't Google, Yahoo, and Bing <snort> just use AI to generate the snippets?

    Problem solved.

    I live in Spain, and when the Google (understandably) shut down the aggregator here, it caused some serious headaches for the smaller publishers.

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

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 5 Feb 2018 @ 10:56am

      Re: Why don't they just use AI?

      "So why don't Google, Yahoo, and Bing <snort> just use AI to generate the snippets?"

      Because that won't get around the problem. The issue is that the snippets exist, not how they're generated. In fact, if snippets were rewritten by AI that would put Google in actual trouble rather than the silly made up stuff they face now.

      I also live in Spain, and it's been a shame that smaller companies had to suffer because their large competitors are idiots. But, for Google, it's easier just top not provide the service rather than fight an endless battle with people who are ultimately only after some free money. For their customers, they either choose a foreign source or get their news from Facebook, Twitter, etc. instead.

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

    • identicon
      David, 8 Feb 2018 @ 3:03pm

      Re: Why don't they just use AI?

      Some think that's exactly the purpose.

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

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 5 Feb 2018 @ 2:11pm

    tHE UNDISCOVERED LANDS..

    Lets ask a strange idea..

    The INTERNET is an undiscovered land.
    Its open, free, SPREAD WIDE across the world..

    Do WE get to make the laws?
    Will we impede the input/output of this land??
    Add Tariffs? Taxes to products created and sent from this land??
    WHO is in charge of this land?(why do they need one)
    It sounds like the Americas, BEFORE Those other people followed and made things complicated..Banks, corporatism, Capitalism...

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

  • icon
    Coyne Tibbets (profile), 5 Feb 2018 @ 7:48pm

    Get it over with

    I cannot figure why governments bother pussyfooting around with Google. Get on with it. Confiscate their stock, confiscate all their money, jail their management, burn down their infrastructure, distribute all the money to other companies, and get it done with.

    Stop pretending that isn't what they really, really want to do.

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

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 5 Feb 2018 @ 10:57pm

      Re: Get it over with

      If you kill a sheep, you get the meat and wool, but only once. If you only shear it though, you don't get the meat, but you can get the wool over, and over, and over again.

      While it wouldn't surprise me in the least if more than a few people would try what you suggest if they thought it would work, it would only get them so much before the company pulled all possible assets out of their reach, not to mention causing a positive exodus of other companies who would flee before it could happen to them.

      By instead slipping in various 'taxes' however they can get a steady stream of unearned income and continue to keep it for a good while.

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

      • icon
        Coyne Tibbets (profile), 6 Feb 2018 @ 4:52am

        Re: Re: Get it over with

        I think you're overrating some of these people's intelligence. There are a lot of people who never got the moral of the story about The Golden Goose.

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

        • icon
          ECA (profile), 6 Feb 2018 @ 8:12pm

          Re: Re: Re: Get it over with

          Do it another way..
          An Angora Goat..
          Milk it..
          Get the wool..
          Make a Nice sweater..
          Get a dog to protect it, and get a few WOLF skins..

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


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Use markdown for basic formatting. HTML is no longer supported.
  Save me a cookie
Close
Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Use markdown for basic formatting. HTML is no longer supported.
  Save me a cookie
Follow Techdirt
Techdirt Gear
Shop Now: Copying Is Not Theft
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.