EU Publishers Freak Out Now That People Are Realizing Just How Fucked Up Their Link Tax Really Is

from the stop-the-link-tax dept

We recently had Julia Reda, a Member of the EU Parliament, on the podcast to discuss the horrible copyright directive proposal soon to be voted on by the Legal Affairs Committee in the EU Parliament. As we've been explaining, there are two very problematic parts to the copyright proposal: mandatory upload filters and the so-called "link tax." The link tax is also refered to as neighboring right or a snippet tax or a wide variety of similar things. But the crux of it is this: publishers are annoyed that Google and Facebook are successful, while they've been struggling. Ergo, the simplest solution is that Google and Facebook should be giving them money.

To make this happen, for a while now they've been dishonestly screaming that Google and Facebook are somehow unfairly "profiting" off of their work, because those sites link to online published news stories, often including snippets. The theory is that this somehow takes away from those own sites' ability to profit. This... makes no sense. First off, this effort drives valuable traffic to the websites of these publishers. This is obvious from the fact that all of the publishers whining about this (1) have not used robots.txt to block sites like Google from scraping them and (2) employ their own search engine optimization team to appear higher in search results, showing they value traffic driven by search. The "solution" to this made up "problem" then is to say that sites like Google or Facebook are violating a brand new "publisher's right" or "neighboring right" in sending these sites traffic without also paying them, and thus they want to force sites to get a license to send traffic.

Obviously, this goes against basically any reasonable conceptual understanding of how the internet works. And, this concept has been tested in Europe and failed. Germany tried it, and when Google responded by no longer including snippets for the publishers demanding payment, traffic to those publishers declined, and those publishers freaked out, eventually giving Google a free license. Spain then tried the same thing, but to avoid the "free license" issue, included as part of its law that you couldn't offer a free license (more or less making Creative Commons illegal, but that's a whole other issue). The end result there was Google News pulling out of Spain entirely, and traffic to publishers' sites dropping significantly.

Of course, the German (mainly) publishers can't stop pushing this idea, and thanks to some friends in the EU Commission and EU Parliament, it's quite close to becoming law in the EU. People are very vocally protesting and pointing out the problems with this, so the publishers are now trying to push back by putting out a ridiculous "Mythbuster" document that claims to clear up why everyone is wrong about the problems of a link tax. Let's take a look.

Fact #1: A publishers' right is NOT a Google/links tax

​The claim that the publishers' right is a threat to the link is the most misleading scare tactic of all from those who seek to undermine the case for a new publishers' right. There is a material and functional difference between you or me reading something we like and posting a link to Facebook and what commercial aggregators and search engines do. Opponents to the neighbouring right for press publishers like to suggest they're equivalent somehow.

Systematic scraping of content - which involves copying it 'en masse' into a private and permanently retained database, processing it and using extracts in commercial services such as search engines, for the purpose of making available text or images (or any other creative content for that matter) together with hyperlinks for commercial purposes is not equivalent to the activities of individuals browsing the web and posting links to things they are interested in.

This is... an interesting spin on things. Of course, it raises a pretty serious question: if there is a "material and functional difference" based on who does the linking... what is that actual difference, and how do we define it in law in a way that doesn't have serious negative consequences? But, more to the point, if it's such a huge problem, why don't these publishers just block the systematic scraping of content from the likes of Google until Google agrees to pay a license? This is not hard to do. It's actually incredibly easy. But the publishers don't want to do that.

And, really, even if we take the publishers' claims at face value, what they are actually saying is that internet search should require a license from every internet site it links to. That's... quite an astounding argument to make. It would have created a very, very different internet, and not a very good one.

Fact #2: Publishers will NOT use this right to block access to their content

Why would we do that? Popularity of our content has never been greater, particularly with the growth of smartphone readership and multiple access points to out content.

It is in publishers' interest to make their products available as widely as possible, on as many platforms as possible. But if big commercial operators continue to be allowed to reuse publishers' products and content without a licence or asking for authorisation, in the long run there will be less of them available. Even if some products are not available on all platforms users will still have many ways to discover and consumer those products, including on publishers' own websites!

First of all, there is not just no evidence to support the idea that there will be less publishers' product if Google and Facebook don't pay them, there is counter-evidence. There has been an incredible explosion in content creation in the past couple of decades, and much of it is driven by the massive decrease in distribution and discovery costs -- which in large part are due to things like search engines.

But a larger point on this one is that this "fact" is meaningless to the debate. I've not seen many people claiming that publishers will pull back their content. Indeed, part of the argument people are making is to wonder why they're not pulling back their content if search engines and aggregators really are so harmful. Again, it's not hard for them to do.

Data shows that news and press content is the most 'wanted' content on social networks and online platforms (Reuters Digital News Report 2015). When dealing with sometimes very large and powerful operators, it's quite right that publishers should be able to grant permissions in return for agreed conditions and to withold permission when agreement cannot be reached.

So, why not do that now? Again, it would be easy for a publisher to withhold content from Google and only put it back with a licensing agreement of some sort. They're not doing it. Instead, they're investing in SEO which suggests that they know that they actually get value from search. But now they want not just value, but also extra payments on top of that.

Fact 3: This right is NOT unique to publishers; Publishers are NOT asking for special treatment

A publishers' right will be similar to the related rights already enjoyed by broadcasters, music and film producers, whose finished works are protected in their entirety. This is what press publishers are asking for, too.

Since 1991 computer programs have benefited from full copyright protection at EU level. Furthermore, it's the companies, whose employees create these programs, which own all the rights to the programs and who have full exclusive control over how they are managed and enforced, just like film producers or broadcasters.

Whoo boy. Someone could write an entire PhD thesis on just how wrong this is. What the publishers are demanding goes way beyond copyright. Broadcasters, musicians and film producers do get copyright -- but so do publishers. Publishers are now asking for something in addition. They already have copyright protection in their works. Now they're asking for a separate right to link to their content (and, depending on interpretations) to include a snippet of what's in the link.

Fact 4: This is NOT just about Google

It's a sad fact of the internet that there are many companies, large and small, old and new that systematically scrape and re-publish press content for commercial purposes without permission or payment.

Why is this sad? This is what makes the internet useful. And they're not "republishing" press content. They're LINKING TO YOU AND DRIVING YOU TRAFFIC. That's a good thing. If you actually spent 20% of what you've spent over the years lobbying for this awful idea on figuring out how to take advantage of the free traffic that these sites send you, you'd already be doing much better. Instead, you do a classic rent seeking move to demand from the government that which you failed to accomplish as a business.

And, more the point: if this does go into effect, Google may be able to afford it, but the others won't. So in the end, it will be about them. Because you'll have systematically removed everyone else from the market.

Fact 5: Small publishers will NOT be negatively impacted

Currently, even large media corporations are not in the position to negotiate for a fair settlement with dominant players. The hope is that the publishers' right might begin to address this asymmetry of power and make it easier for all publishers - whatever their size - to monetise and share fairly in the value of the content in the future if they would like to.

​As the law currently stands, in order to defend their rights publishers need to attempt to track all uses of their content across the whole internet, issue notices in respect of each individual infringing use they discover, and, frequently, prove the chain of title for tens of thousands of articles and photographs. This is daunting, extremely costly, time consuming and practically impossible except in a small number of cases. The outcome is also rarely better than a takedown of the infringing content; damages and costs are rare.

Well, first off, we have actual evidence of this already in Spain, where studies showed that it DID disproportionately hurt small publishers. This is also why small publishers have come out against your dumb proposal. So, it's great for you to say it will have no impact, but you have no evidence to support that position, and tons of evidence against it. It seems, yet again, that your fact is, in fact, a myth.

Fact 6: Innovation will still be possible - and more accessible!

A publishers' right will help open the way for more innovation. Clarifying the law at EU level will improve press publishers' bargaining position when it comes to third parties' use of their works, and more legal certainty over their rights will help encourage investment and increase the possibilities for publishers of all sizes across Europe to develop new product offerings, to the benefit of their readers.

This isn't "clarifying." This is creating an entirely new right that by your own actions (SEO, failing to use robots.txt) you show is unnecessary. This isn't about "more legal certainty." This is about massively putting your fingers on the scale, such that more successful businesses need to pay you for sending you valuable traffic.

There's a myth that a liberal copyright regime is necessary to encourage innovation, but this is not true. Imagine a situation where tech companies allow others to use their patented or trademarked products or services without authorization or payment. Tech companies fiercely defend and protect their own intellectual property. Why should it be any different when it comes to protecting copyright?

This is hilarious. First, there is tons of evidence to support the idea that a more "liberal copyright regime" helps with innovation. But the really nonsense claim is that this is somehow hypocritical of tech. Now, you can certainly point to some tech companies that over-aggressively enforce various aspects of their patents and trademarks, but the more innovative ones are not exactly known for it. Google is not going out and suing others over patents. Companies like Tesla have even freed up all their patents. The tech industry tends to view patents and trademarks as more of a necessary evil, rather than something they need to "protect" their work. So, no they don't "fiercely defend and protect." This whole claim is just nonsense from some European publishers who don't seem to know what they're talking about.

Fact 7: Users will NOT be criminalised and the internet will NOT be broken

Nothing we are asking for would affect the way that our readers access our content or share links on social media or via apps and email to friends and family. Nor will it change the contractual arrangements with journalists, photographers and other contributors.

Bullshit. You just said that you want large companies to pay up. That will absolutely, by definition, change how readers share content and links on social media. The platforms that are doing this will suddenly have to get licenses, meaning they'd likely block plenty of sharing on content they don't have such a license for. And some, a la Google News in Spain, may drop out altogether.

The only people who will notice any changes at all are those who today free-ride for commercial gain on publishers' investments without permission or payment. Who are they? Well, not the readers, authors or individual users, but commercial organisations whose business models and significant economic benefits depend on the use of publishers' journalistically-produced content.

So... EU Publishers: here's a question. If you consider Google sending you free traffic as "free riding," um... aren't you "free riding" on the traffic Google sends you for free? Isn't this line of reasoning going to get you into deep shit when someone spins around and asks why you're free riding on Google and Facebook and not paying them for the traffic they send you? After all, you're getting commercial gain from Google and Facebook's investment without permission or payment.

Fact 8: An independent, free press that supports diversity and upholds democracy CANNOT survive indefinitely without generating revenues

A free and independent press can only exist if there is adequate revenue to pay journalists, photographers and freelancers and to finance their training and security. Today, the prospect is increasingly reduced, due to declining print revenues that have not been matched by digital despite increased levels of readership. The reasons for this are complex, but in a nutshell large search engines and other distributors make publishers' content available for free to the user without re-investing in its production while making it difficult for publishers to charge users directly for the same content.

This is true! Finally! But what does it have to do with getting this brand new right? Again, the experiments with it in Germany and Spain have not led to any new revenue for publishers. So why do you naturally assume that it will magically happen this time? The decline of print revenues is a big deal. And it is a huge challenge for publishers. But why do you assume that the answer is having governments force other companies to pay you? What a weird approach.

The loss of advertising share is also significant, as much of this now goes directly to search and social networks, which attract larger user groups that include users who are reading publishers' content on their platforms. Finally, unauthorised large-scale re-use of publishers' content and a lack of legal clarity that would enable enforcement against large-scale infringements is a growing problem that needs reversing.

The loss of advertising share... basically sounds like admission that you guys suck at your jobs. And you want a government bailout. And, again, they're not "re-using" your content. They're sending you traffic. Traffic that you could monetize. If you were good at your jobs and not crying to Brussels.

Fact 9: Consumers will still be able to find news and content on different platforms

Publishers actively make their content available on all platforms, accessible on any device of choice. They recognize that consumers benefit from easy access to their content wherever they happen to be, whether this be through publishers' own websites, or on social media or search pages where multiple sources of content are aggregated. Not only do consumers benefit, but so do the hosts of publishers' content who derive value and real benefits through increased traffic, advertising revenues or in some cases subscription fees.

What? I mean, sure, publishers will make their content available if they are getting paid for the links. That's the whole freaking issue. This would mandate fees for those links, and of course then the publishers will make the content available -- they want to get paid. The problem is that many platforms won't post links to their content any more because it won't be cost effective.

Publishers recognise that search and social media platforms are important partners for news organisations and that their traffic brings benefits, although not on the exaggerated scale claimed by some. The current system does not recognise the value third parties get from publishers' content. It is unsustainable for publishers to continue funding high-quality professional journalism without a fair share of the value others derive from their content.

Their traffic brings benefits... which is why we need to get them to also pay us? How does that make any sense?

Fact 10: Publishers are NOT just trying to support 'old' business models

Publishers have made an important transition from analogue to digital over the past decade with high degrees of innovation and enormous growth in audience and popularity. They have embraced the digital age and count as many technical staff as editorial.

You do this after paragraph upon paragraph talking about how you can't survive without this tax on links. Which means you haven't actually embraced digital. It means you're demanding that those who actually have embraced digital subsidize your failures.

The publishers' arguments here are not just weak, they're nonsensical. There is no way to understand the link tax "publishers' rights" proposal as anything other than a massive subsidy from successful internet companies to publishers who failed to adapt to a changing marketplace. It's sad that the EU seems to think that's an appropriate response, and that the powers that be don't seem to care about the existing evidence of how such laws have completely flopped in the past.

This is not evidence-based policy-making. It is corruption. It is corruption in bowing to the will of a few large publishers who have failed to innovate successfully, and are now going to harm the entire internet in response. The EU Parliament should not allow this to happen. If you agree that this is crazy, go check out SaveTheLink.org, which has more details.


Reader Comments

The First Word

The most important fact of all

Fact 0: The true purpose of copyright is to keep abusive publishers in check.

Seeing publishers whining about how they need more copyright to give them leverage against others for their own protection is real rich, considering that copyright was originally invented to give authors leverage against publishers because of their abusive behavior.

The intro to the Statute of Anne, the original copyright law, makes this abundantly clear:

Whereas printers, booksellers, and other persons have of late frequently taken the liberty of printing, reprinting, and publishing, or causing to be printed, reprinted, and published, books and other writings, without the consent of the authors or proprietors of such books and writings, to their very great detriment, and too often to the ruin of them and their families: for preventing therefore such practices for the future, and for the encouragement of learned men to compose and write useful books; may it please your Majesty, that it may be enacted, and be it enacted by the Queen's most excellent majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the lords spiritual and temporal, and commons, in this present parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same;

Publishers hate this, and they've spent the last 200+ years slowly turning it inside out. We need real copyright reform, to get it back on track and restore copyright to its original meaning, instead of the monstrosity it's become in the intervening years.

—Mason Wheeler

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  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2018 @ 9:51am

    "Which means you [creators] haven't actually embraced digital."

    Where "digital" means everyone, especially GOOGLE, using for free the content that creators PAY to produce.

    Masnick actually has nothing here except the assertions that publishers are crazy for not wanting to pay to enrich Google.

    By the way: Google leaving as in Spain worked ONLY because ONE country. Google will not leave Europe.

    By golly, the Europeans have right ideas in many areas. Evidently they've learned that the unlimited corporatism that Masnick advocates is simply bad for the 99%.

    My bet is that passes.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2018 @ 10:02am

      Re: "Which means you [creators] haven't actually embraced digital."

      No one cares what your bet is. You have proven yourself not only wrong but insane time and time again. Why don't you put the question to your doctor as to why you obsess over a site you hate? Hint it isn't sanity.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2018 @ 10:17am

      Re: "Which means you [creators] haven't actually embraced digital."

      Google need not leave Europe, they will just refuse to index those who demand a link tax. If forced to pay for any links in Europe, then they will be indexing content from outside Europe for Europeans to find and go and read, or listen or view. Also, anybody in Europe with any sense will switch their content to a service from outside Europe so that it can still be found.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2018 @ 10:28am

      blah blah blah

      "Where "digital" means everyone, especially GOOGLE, using for free the content that creators PAY to produce"

      If creators don't want their content on Google, it's not difficult to prevent that. That they choose not to prevent it and indeed choose to design their content to be SEO friendly, they're implicitly acknowledging they want to use Google to spread their content.

      Google isn't the internet. Content creators (including myself) don't have to allow our content to appear on Google services.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2018 @ 10:45am

      Re:

      Google left Spain, choosing to do without like you demanded. Then you chucklefucks pissed and moaned about it, despite Google doing what you wanted. Hell, every Google employee could give you a strapon to fuck them in the ass with and you still wouldn't be satisfied.

      Have a SESTA vote, you moron.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2018 @ 11:17am

      Re: "Which means you [creators] haven't actually embraced digital."

      So...why are they allowing Google to index their content?

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    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 8 Jun 2018 @ 2:13pm

      Re: "Which means you [creators] haven't actually embraced digital."

      Google will not leave Europe.

      If this law passes and Google shuts down any affected operations as a result, I will look back at this declaration and laugh.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2018 @ 10:00am

    Google needs to force the issue

    If Google refuses to link any media in the EU until this law is not only struck down but they are paid 1 billion dollars, They would get it within two months.

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  • icon
    Mason Wheeler (profile), 8 Jun 2018 @ 10:16am

    The most important fact of all

    Fact 0: The true purpose of copyright is to keep abusive publishers in check.

    Seeing publishers whining about how they need more copyright to give them leverage against others for their own protection is real rich, considering that copyright was originally invented to give authors leverage against publishers because of their abusive behavior.

    The intro to the Statute of Anne, the original copyright law, makes this abundantly clear:

    Whereas printers, booksellers, and other persons have of late frequently taken the liberty of printing, reprinting, and publishing, or causing to be printed, reprinted, and published, books and other writings, without the consent of the authors or proprietors of such books and writings, to their very great detriment, and too often to the ruin of them and their families: for preventing therefore such practices for the future, and for the encouragement of learned men to compose and write useful books; may it please your Majesty, that it may be enacted, and be it enacted by the Queen's most excellent majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the lords spiritual and temporal, and commons, in this present parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same;

    Publishers hate this, and they've spent the last 200+ years slowly turning it inside out. We need real copyright reform, to get it back on track and restore copyright to its original meaning, instead of the monstrosity it's become in the intervening years.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2018 @ 10:24am

      Re: The most important fact of all

      considering that copyright was originally invented to give authors leverage against publishers

      Actually the Statute of Anne was something that the publishers wanted, so as to be able to regulate their industry, and it took ten years of failing to get a law passed for them to come up with the idea of making it an authors right, which could be transferred to them, and that is what got the law they wanted passed.

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      • icon
        Mason Wheeler (profile), 8 Jun 2018 @ 11:45am

        Re: Re: The most important fact of all

        Actually no. I know where that argument comes from, and it's taking a small grain of truth and turning it completely inside out and distorting it almost beyond recognition. The people who pushed for this were the people being harmed by the publishers.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2018 @ 12:34pm

          Re: Re: Re: The most important fact of all

          The people who pushed for this were…

          Your use of “this” in that sentence is ambiguous.

          There are a number of ingredients going into the statute of 8th Anne. Divergent interested parties pushed for different things.

          But there is no doubt at all that the booksellers lobbied strongly for a statute to remedy the economic disarry into which publishing had been thrown following the expiration of the Licensing Act.

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          • icon
            Mason Wheeler (profile), 8 Jun 2018 @ 1:56pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: The most important fact of all

            Yes. They were trying to get the Licensing Act (ie. the previous censorship regime) back, and they failed multiple times. The Statute of Anne was very different from what they wanted.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2018 @ 12:40pm

          Re: Re: Re: The most important fact of all

          From the Wikipedia article

          Over the next 10 years the Stationers repeatedly advocated bills to re-authorize the old licensing system, but Parliament declined to enact them. Faced with this failure, the Stationers decided to emphasise the benefits of licensing to authors rather than publishers, and the Stationers succeeded in getting Parliament to consider a new bill

          The thing that printers feared was a pirate printing a significant number of books and beating them to market, because that would leave them with books they could not sell. This fear was reasonable because printing requires that your print the number of copies you expect to sell of each section of a book, and consequently enough copies to meet the expected sales are produced before any copies can be sold.

          Set out to print say 10,000 copies, and have someone produce and sell 5,000 copies before you can complete the printing, which they could do because they only need half the time, and the original printer could be left with 5,000 or so copies that are difficult to sell. That is why copyright is important to anybody producing physical copies by batch process, they invest in making the number of copies they expect to sell before they sell the first copy.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2018 @ 12:15pm

        Re: Re: The most important fact of all

        it took ten years of failing to get a law passed for them to come up with the idea of making it an authors right

        Daniel Defoe(*)'s 1704 “Essay on the Regulation of the Press” is worth reading to understand the genesis of the idea of statutorily vesting initial ownership of copies in authors.

        Ronan Deazley's “Commentary on Defoe's Essay on the Regulation of the Press 1704” sets out—

        In May 1695, with the close of the last session of William III's (1650-1702) second parliament, the Licensing Act 1662 expired and pre-publication censorship of the English press came to an end. The lapse of the 1662 Act marked the beginning of a period in British politics in which parliament and the party system had to renegotiate their attitudes to, and relationship with, an embryonic, independent fourth estate. . .

        Defoe advocated a free press subject to an increased emphasis on post-publication accountability and prosecution, proposing that "a Law be made to make the last Seller the Author, unless the name of the Author, Printer or Bookseller, be affix'd to the Book". In this way, he continued, "no Book can be published, but there will be somebody to answer for it".

        Deazley's commentary continues with explanation of Defoe's attitude towards press-piracy, and Defoe's repeated calls—

        … for a law which, "by Securing the Property of Books to the Authors or Editors of them", would not only provide "due and just Restraints to the Press", but would also function "for the encouraging of Learning, Arts, and Industry"

        Note that in Defoe's 1704 essay, urging a statute for press regulation, Defoe writes:

        [E]very Author being oblig'd to set his Name to the Book he writes, has, by this Law, an undoubted exclusive Right to the Property of it. The Clause in the Law is a Patent to the Author, and settles the Propriety of the Work wholly in himself, or in such to whom he shall assign it.


        (*) Daniel Defoe (1660 - 1731) “…most famous for his novel Robinson Crusoe…”.

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        • icon
          Mason Wheeler (profile), 8 Jun 2018 @ 2:21pm

          Re: Re: Re: The most important fact of all

          Thank you for posting this quote. The best defense against agenda-driven modern writers trying to rewrite history is to look at contemporary sources, and here we clearly see the perspective of the authors of the time and how they were looking for legal leverage against abusive publishers, precisely as I said.

          If you go through the pamphlet, you see several times that, though he speaks from a position heavily steeped in Christian rhetoric and condemns written works that he finds obscene or heretical, he believes that giving a "Licenser" the ability to grant or prohibit the granting of publication licenses--in other words, having a censorship regime--is far worse in his eyes, something to be avoided because it will bring a whole host of problems that Techdirt readers will be quite familiar with already. (The more things change...)

          > Is it then fit the Licentiousness of the Press should be Unrestrain'd?
          > ...
          > Licentiousness of all sorts ought to be restrain'd, whether of the Tongue, the Pen, the Press, or any thing else, and it were well if all sorts of Licentiousness were as easy to Govern as this; but to regulate this Evil ten times more pernicious, is doing us no service at all.

          The solution he argued for, as noted, was to give authors a copyright with which to restrain the excesses of "the Press" (which in that time meant publishers, not news media.) Which is precisely what ended up happening.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 10 Jun 2018 @ 9:58am

          Re: Re: Re: The most important fact of all

          Defoe [1704] advocated … "no Book can be published, but there will be somebody to answer for it".

          Compare with Licensing Act 1662 (14 Car. 2, c.33), provision VII —

          [E]very person and persons that shall hereafter print, or cause to be printed any book, ballad, chart, pourtracture, or any other thing or things whatsoever, shall thereunto, or thereon, print and set his or their own name or names, and also shall declare the name of the author thereof, if he be thereunto required by the licenser under whose approbation the licensing of the said book, ballad, chart, or pourtracture shall be authorized, and by and for whom any such book or other thing is or shall be printed

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 10 Jun 2018 @ 11:48am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: The most important fact of all

            Compare with Licensing Act 1662 (14 Car. 2, c.33), provision VII

            And see footnote in John Locke's Memorandum regarding renewal of the Licensing Act. Deazley dates this memorandum written by Locke to 1693(†):

            And then let the printer or bookseller, whose name is to it, be answerable* for whatever is against the law in it, . . .


            * This is now the law.

            (†) The 1830 source which provides this copy of Locke's memorandum, itself estimates it as “probably” from 1694.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2018 @ 11:28am

      Re: The most important fact of all

      If copyright didn't exist before that, how did it make sense to refer to "proprietors" of books and writings?

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2018 @ 11:45am

        Re: Re: The most important fact of all

        Because the original copyright was a censors license to permit the printing of books, and was issued to a particular printer, which also gave them the ability to shut down anybody else producing copies of books for which they held the license. Because printers needed new books to print, they would buy manuscripts off of authors. Manuscripts in those days being hand written, as were any copies made by or for the author.

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        • icon
          Mason Wheeler (profile), 8 Jun 2018 @ 11:48am

          Re: Re: Re: The most important fact of all

          Again, no. *The censors' license was not a copyright.* Copyright came about as a reaction to the Wild West conditions created when the censorship regime came to a (much-needed) end, but without any successor in place to keep publishers in check, they started running rampant, publishing things just because they could, no matter who it harmed. Copyright was instituted specifically to smack them down over this practice.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2018 @ 1:03pm

      Re: The most important fact of all

      The intro to the Statute of Anne…

      You're quoting, but without providing any source link, where anyone might read from the body of the statute—

      That nothing in this Act contained shall be construed to extend to subject any Bookseller printer or other person whatsoever to the forfeitures or penalties therein mentioned for or by reason of the printing or reprinting of any book or books without such consent as aforesaid unless the Title to the Copy of such book or books hereafter published shall before such publication be entered in the Register Book of the Company of Stationers in such manner as hath been usual

      That provision makes it abundantly clear that at least in one important respect, the statutory scheme of 8th Anne was a continuation of the old Stationer's copyright, which had grown up under the old censorship regime — imposed by royal prerogative, decrees of Star Chamber, and statutes of Parliament.

      Where the statute 8th Anne says, “in such manner as hath been usual”, there the new statute is not proposing unusual innovation.

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      • icon
        Mason Wheeler (profile), 8 Jun 2018 @ 2:01pm

        Re: Re: The most important fact of all

        No, you're misreading it. This is actually something very different, the genesis of a point that Mike has made several times about modern copyright, and yet another idea we should get back to: that copyright should not apply to all works automatically, but ought to need to be registered with the Library of Congress (or, in this case, the Register Book of the Company of Stationers) before it applies at all.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2018 @ 2:57pm

          Re: Re: Re: The most important fact of all

                    “in such manner as hath been usual”

          No, you're misreading it.

          The Royal Charter of the Company of Stationers granted by Queen Mary in 1557, expressly provided—

          [N]o person within this our realm of England or the dominions of the same shall practise or exercise . . . the art or mistery of printing any book or any thing for sale or traffic within this our realm of England or the dominions of the same, unless the same person at the time of his foresaid printing is or shall be one of the community of the foresaid mistery or art of Stationary of the foresaid City, or has therefore licence . . . by the letters patent of us

          (English translation of Latin charter along rh. side in source image.)

          Over the next century and a half, the Stationers' Company control over the printing trade was repeatedly reasserted by subsequent decrees and statutes.

          Further, as Deazley explains

          It was this particular aspect of the charter which lay at the heart of the company's primary function and interest: securing to its members the exclusive control over their published works. To achieve this, and following the grant of the charter, the stationers drafted ordinances which provided that members had to both obtain from the Wardens of the Company a licence to print any particular work, and enter that licence in the company's register. This process had the effect of securing to any member their exclusive right to print the registered work. Anyone who printed a work against the licence of the company could be brought before the stationers' Court of Assistants, a body that could, if warranted, impose financial penalties upon the individual engaging in the unauthorised reproduction. In this way, the charter facilitated the development of what is generally referred to as ‘stationers' copyright’.

          (Footnotes omitted.)

          Where the 1710 statute provides—

          Title to the Copy of such book or books hereafter published shall before such publication be entered in the Register Book of the Company of Stationers in such manner as hath been usual

          —there in plain words the new 1710 statute links back to the old Stationers' copyright: “As hath been usual.”

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          • icon
            Mason Wheeler (profile), 8 Jun 2018 @ 3:10pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: The most important fact of all

            Your "Deazley's explanation" is completely out of context, as it's not talking about copyright at all; it's referring to events that occurred 2 centuries before the establishment of copyright.

            By the time that the Statute of Anne was established, the Stationers' monopoly system was completely defunct for many years already, and it had been made quite clear by Parliament in multiple different cases that it was not coming back. The registration provision was exactly what it said and nothing more: in order to qualify for copyright, a work needed to be registered in the Stationer's registry "in such a manner as hath been usual."

            In other words, rather than having to come up with a copyright registry out of whole cloth, they repurposed an existing, familiar institution and said "the registration system will work based on the way the old system used to work."

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2018 @ 3:18pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: The most important fact of all

              … completely out of context, as it's not talking about copyright at all…

              He writes, and I quoted, “… generally referred to as ‘stationers' copyright’.”

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              • icon
                Mason Wheeler (profile), 11 Jun 2018 @ 8:20am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: The most important fact of all

                And what's your point? People have never been good at using precise words, either because of laziness or, occasionally, outright dishonesty.

                When Europeans arrived in America and found the native wildlife, they called llamas and alpacas "goats" and bison "buffalo" because they were superficially similar to familiar animals. (Laziness.) And there's a certain rodent called a cavy, more commonly referred to as a "guinea pig" (or other pig-based names in other languages) despite not being related in any way to pigs. The naming convention came about because they're a good source of protein, and calling them a pig makes them sound more appetizing than calling them a rodent. (Dishonesty.)

                People may "generally refer to" something by a name that is highly inaccurate, and this is the case here.

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 10 Jun 2018 @ 9:11pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: The most important fact of all

              "… the way the old system used to work."

              Stationers' Company Ordinance of 17th August, 1681, section V.

               . . .  [B]y ancient usage of this Company, when any Book or Copy is duly Entred in the Register Book of this Company, to any Member or Members of this Company, such Person to whom such Entry is made, is, and always hath been reputed and taken to be Proprietor of such Book or Copy, and ought to have the sole Printing thereof

              (From Arber, A Transcript of the Registers of the Company of Stationers of London; 1554-1640 A. D., vol. I, p.22. The 1950 reprint uses the same page numbering as the 1875 edition.)

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              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 10 Jun 2018 @ 10:19pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: The most important fact of all

                From Arber…

                (Arber copies a 1682 printing. Same text in V. on pp.34-5 of The Orders, Rules, and Ordinances printed for the Company of Stationers, 1692.)

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                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 11 Jun 2018 @ 6:55am

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

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

                  Seriously, change it up a bit, eh?

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  • identicon
    Sam Moses, 8 Jun 2018 @ 10:17am

    It's more than that.

    Just look at Europe though. First, unreasonable treatment of cookies, then unreasonable treatment of data. Now, we're talking about unreasonable treatment of linking. Taken separately, It's dull, nothing all that interesting to look at. But together, it makes sense, if we're talking about an effort to drive Google and Facebook off the continent, and replace them with something that might be exempt from all these silly rules. State owned internet services, perhaps?

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  • icon
    discordian_eris (profile), 8 Jun 2018 @ 10:21am

    If this passes then fuck the EU and fuck its morons in charge. Time to simply abandon the whole fucking continent, it is plainly too stupid to exist anymore.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2018 @ 10:26am

    This is looking more and more that the print side of their business is running at a loss, and the digital side is not making enough to carry that loss. If the abandoned the print side, they would cut overheads at perhaps become profitable with a slimmed down organization.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2018 @ 10:40am

    'you'll have systematically removed everyone else from the market'

    this is exactly what they are trying to do! they want to go down the same road as the music and movie industries, not only lock stuff away from everyone, unless paid to unlock it, they want complete control over everything as well, unless paid for it! the fact that they want everyone to ignore is that the failing is of their own doing. had they gone down the sensible road as stated in the article, they would have made a whole load of money instead of spending it on the bullshit that someone has convinced them to follow. i hope Google does the same as it did in Spain and pulls out because people wont still go to the sites the publishers want and will therefore lose even more than they have up til now! fucking good job too!!

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2018 @ 10:42am

    there isn't a single section of the entertainments industries that isn't totally run on greed! the attitude of 'something for nothing' is one that people are accused of when in actual fact it's those industries themselves that are the greedy bastards!

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2018 @ 10:53am

    As I live in North America, will I have to pay this "tax"?

    I live in North America. I rent a few VMs from an American hosting provider. I have on occasion run a scraper to find data. I haven't bothered to publish the results, but I could. In effect this would be a new search engine.

    If I did this, would they expect my completely not in the EU self to pay their taxes?

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  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 8 Jun 2018 @ 11:09am

    "the most misleading scare tactic of all from those who seek to undermine the case for a new publishers' right"

    Which is nothing like the scare tactic you've used to create this new publishers' right??

    They can avoid their content being indexed, but refuse to because they need the traffic coming in from the search engines. Of course many of them have decided the only way to make money is to abuse people who come to their sites with shitty ads laden with malware... and then blame everyone else for the problem.

    They have the ability to stop their content being scraped, instead of inventing new rights... why not demand they make use of the tools already provided to them?
    One might think finding the content the user wants faster is a benefit to the publishers.

    Perhaps it is time to stop trying yet again to do the thing PROVEN to not work & demand the publishers sort their shit out.
    Don't want Google to index you use robots.txt - You can search on Google how to do it.
    Stop demanding that everyone else bear the costs & effort to protect these insane rights & make those benefiting from them do their own due diligence.
    Just because the rights cartels are abusing the DMCA by sending notices to Google... WHO DOESN'T HOST THE CONTENT WHICH IS WHERE A DMCA NOTICE IS SUPPOSED TO GO & Google stupidly didn't fight back early on to avoid a long expensive legal slog doesn't mean they aren't going to flip you off with this horrible solution to self made problems.

    Amazon told Australia to fsck right off, if I were leading a country I'd stop annoying the platforms my citizens want to use because some legacy industries haven't bothered to figure out (or even try) new ways to profit in the digital age.

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    • identicon
      Archillies, 8 Jun 2018 @ 12:37pm

      Re:

      Small point re: Amazon - They opened an AU version - amazon.au for the Australian customers that will not include imported goods that meet the criteria for the new tax. Better then abandonment I guess but rather limited stock since international goods are not included.

      Australian shoppers will not be able to directly purchase on the international amazon.com site.

      The on-topic part of this message: The EU is showing everyone that they do NOT think things through. Very sad...

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  • identicon
    David, 8 Jun 2018 @ 11:49am

    Your logic doesn't scan.

    This is... an interesting spin on things. Of course, it raises a pretty serious question: if there is a "material and functional difference" based on who does the linking... what is that actual difference, and how do we define it in law in a way that doesn't have serious negative consequences? But, more to the point, if it's such a huge problem, why don't these publishers just block the systematic scraping of content from the likes of Google until Google agrees to pay a license? This is not hard to do. It's actually incredibly easy. But the publishers don't want to do that.

    The point of unilaterally not having your stuff getting linked to is that it is a competitive disadvantage.

    You can perfectly well and logically consistently argue for speed limits when faster driving decreases the the capacity of lanes while at the same point of time trying to drive as fast as you can.

    In fact, it is the purpose of laws and regulations exactly to level the playing field when isolated fair players engaging in sustainable behavior would otherwise be disadvantaged.

    So if there is an unfair advantage to a search-engine driven business field and it is in regulatory interest not to force everybody to develop his own search engine business, there is some sense in finding some levying model balancing the interests of different fields.

    Now of course fields that are in isolation unprofitable are something that can just go. But Google cannot replace them, and it would not be good if it did either.

    "Search Engine Optimization" is a crap business and a poor substitute for regulation. Paid links are more direct but a power concentrator.

    I don't have good ideas either but your attempt at painting the attempts of lawmakers to find some manner of reconciling the ways symbiosis of different fields could work in a not directly predatory manner as idiotic is not particularly helpful for arriving at sensible solutions either.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2018 @ 11:58am

      Re: Your logic doesn't scan.

      I think your missing the point of the post. Although admittedly directed at the wrong people (I imagine most people who read Techdirt realize that the EU solution is not going to work), the point of the article is to try to get the legislators to kill their bad idea as it will actually make things worse for the publishers.

      Based on historical evidence (Spain & Germany's attempts), the big companies will simply stop indexing EU news sources. This will reduce traffic to their web sites and actually reduce the publishers revenue even more as the publishers are paid for views of ads on their sites. Less views means less money.

      At a guess, the most probable result will be that EU residents will get news from non EU publishers (probably not good for the EU) because the EU residents will continue to use Google and the like to search for news.

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      • identicon
        David, 8 Jun 2018 @ 1:49pm

        Re: Re: Your logic doesn't scan.

        Based on historical evidence (Spain & Germany's attempts), the big companies will simply stop indexing EU news sources. This will reduce traffic to their web sites and actually reduce the publishers revenue even more as the publishers are paid for views of ads on their sites. Less views means less money.

        30 years ago there were no views at all and money was being paid. Basically sabotaging the news aggregation business wholesale can be seen as an attempt at turning back the clock to those times.

        It can also be seen as an attempt to force news aggregators to actually curate select links rather than promote those news outlets that pay the most for search engine optimization.

        I'm rather sceptical it can be made to work reasonably well but it's not just pure lunacy.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2018 @ 4:00pm

      Re: Your logic doesn't scan.

      If only there was already a symbiosis between search engines and publishers where search engines freely directed traffic towards publishers and publishers could choose to turn off this source of free traffic at any time with minimal work.

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

      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 8 Jun 2018 @ 7:46pm

        Re: Re: Your logic doesn't scan.

        If only there was already a symbiosis between search engines and publishers where search engines freely directed traffic towards publishers and publishers could choose to turn off this source of free traffic at any time with minimal work.

        That point bears repeating and emphasis every single time the topic comes up about how the evil Google is stealing all their money.

        The same ones making the complaints could stop the 'theft' within a day simply by making a simple change on their end. That they do not do this makes it crystal clear that for all their objections they want to be listed by the fiends at Google, they just want to be paid to be listed as well.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2018 @ 11:52am

    The point

    I think the point is hidden in the text:

    "...There is a material and functional difference between you or me..."

    It seems to sum up their arguments pretty well.

    Fact 1: I have a few scrapers and I occationally use them with permission from the site-owners. The point of a scraper is to choose what to get. The whole point is to avoid 'en masse' which is an incredibly misleading word to throw at the method it in the context. They may be able to use some of the argument for more transparency about the SEO-process, but it doesn't even come close to address the argument of "Google tax". If anything the descriptions reinforce the claim! Substantiality is an issue, which would make some sense to bring into the frey, but it is not even close to being opened. Who knows, they may lose the loot from the use if the companies could conform to a standard...

    Fact 2 is a strange absurdity on both sides, giving credence to the facts being chosen to keep the flow going more than adressing actual concerns.

    Fact 3 seems to hint at source-code copyright, which is difficult to equate to this insofar as scope in terms of quantifying the right is not discussed.

    Fact 4 and 5 are pretty much where the creators cat is burried, but requiring the need for asking for explicit permission is not always desirable for the content creator either. Particularly with exemptions and rights being different from country to country, the safe side would involve a mess of lies from the content creater in terms of eligibility of exemptions or a lot of need for answeering non-profit requests...

    Fact 6 is the Wall Street appeal. A right like this is called a moat and given that the content is unique, it is a monopoly and thus one of the strongest moats you can get. But having this protection of content seems as likely, if not more so, to produce similarities with certain aggresively patent-defending NPEs than true value-creating companies. There are plenty of scam-artists already. Don't need more...

    Fact 7 and 8 the arguments seem to narrow a scope that few questions. The real argument for the publishers is fact 8: Publishers are almost always dependent on two things, the sales to the readers and the sale to advertisers. The publishers seem to want to leverage this right to get a share of the advertising income from others, which is an unfortunate way of coming at the issue. Right now the issue is the lack of potential for disrupting advertising and the data-collections the advertising relies on. In most cases Google is a monopoly on this front and you can't really compete directly if you lack the data to increase advertising income. Regardless, this right is surely not a good way of going about solving that.

    Fact 9 and 10 sums up the rant, but doesn't do them any favours. The "facts" here are claims with more than a bit of questionability based on the other facts the present. Not sure how well it resonates with politicians but it is certainly not a strong line of argument in its own right.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2018 @ 11:56am

    I sincerely hope this passes into law. I'll wait the week or less it will take for them to panic as their site traffic drops dramatically and start crying for a repeal. Nothing gets attention like money, or the loss thereof.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2018 @ 12:49pm

      Re:

      Don't know, the EU may go the Italian route and leave the new law in place if passed no matter the issues. This certainly benefits the big publishers pushing this by eliminating competition. Also benefits the politicians two ways 1) by helping their publisher friends who support them at election time and 2) by eliminating voices for their potential opposition.

      A cynical view I'll admit but it has happened before in the history of governments.

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      • icon
        R.H. (profile), 8 Jun 2018 @ 9:34pm

        Re: Re:

        I don't know that it would eliminate competition. All a small publisher would have to do is set up a mirror of their EU site on another domain hosted outside of the EU and they'd still be indexed as normal. That's what I'd do, web-hosting isn't that expensive and it makes for a nice offsite (off-continent?) backup just in case of an emergency with the EU-based site.

        If passed, I'm guessing that there'll be a waiting period before this law goes into effect just as there was with the GDPR, even if it's much shorter. That should be enough time for everyone to get their mirrors in order. I'll be ready with my popcorn ^_^

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        • icon
          Seegras (profile), 9 Jun 2018 @ 4:26am

          Re: Re: Re:

          It would eliminate third parties; afraid of linking to content on publishers sites.

          For instance, it would cripple Wikipedia.

          I think the involved publishers would like that.

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  • identicon
    bshock, 8 Jun 2018 @ 12:19pm

    This FAQ makes me ill. At best, it's argument by mere assertion. It is devoid of facts or logical reasoning.

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  • icon
    Jay Fude (profile), 8 Jun 2018 @ 12:28pm

    Change the name

    Much like other monikers created here on Techdirt, I vote that we change the name from "link tax" to "the farking tax" just to nod at a site that I discovered Techdirt on, and because I want to say "farking" all the time, and not get in trouble for it.

    Obviously many taxes are described in a similar vein, with a similar word, but I don't want the EU thought police to cry foul and upset the balance of a delicate snowflake by using it in impolite society.

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  • icon
    Get off my cyber-lawn! (profile), 8 Jun 2018 @ 12:46pm

    Here's an idea

    How about Google just go ahead and lock-down the links now and see how loud those affected start screaming?

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2018 @ 12:51pm

      Re: Here's an idea

      I have the popcorn ready to pop if that happens. And a big comfy chair.... ;)

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    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 8 Jun 2018 @ 1:12pm

      Re: Here's an idea

      'Due to a potential new law, Google stands to find itself in the position of either paying for links or removing them. In an attempt to find out which option is more viable we have decided to engage in a limited trial run where we have removed links from the major publishers pushing for this law to see how that effects our service and business model.'

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2018 @ 1:21pm

    If the newspapers were so sure of their value to Google, they would use robots.txt to block listing until Google negotiated a fee to be able to list their stories. That they haven't tried that seems to indicate they know how much Google actually values being able to link to them.

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  • identicon
    Michael Riendeau, 8 Jun 2018 @ 6:02pm

    This is worse than the Net Neutrality repeal

    Why are countries so bent on ruining the internet now? This id fucking retarded. The only reason why anyone would do this is to actually create a corporate version of 1984. There is only malice and corruption that could motivate lawmakers into doing this. If the U.S tries pushing this we are all doomed, especially without Net Neutrality.

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  • identicon
    Ms Anonymous, 9 Jun 2018 @ 2:56am

    Quote of the week:

    "If you actually spent 20% of what you've spent over the years lobbying for this awful idea on figuring out how to take advantage of the free traffic that these sites send you, you'd already be doing much better. Instead, you do a classic rent seeking move to demand from the government that which you failed to accomplish as a business." by Mike

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  • identicon
    alex, 9 Jun 2018 @ 8:02am

    Isn't it really simpler than the article implies?

    I wonder whether MM's long rant is misplaced.

    If I'm reading the proposals correctly, it's a licencing requirement, not for any link, but only for links that quote without permission ("snippets").

    If this is correct, the only real issue is that the aggregators are linking with *text from the publisher* and not with some other text. In a jurisdiction without a good "fair use" rule, even a headline may be copyrightable. But if Google and other parties that put together a "links to recent news" type of service, simply avoid using the same text as the publisher, the publishers then have no legal leverage.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 9 Jun 2018 @ 10:21am

      Re: Isn't it really simpler than the article implies?

      But if Google and other parties that put together a "links to recent news" type of service, simply avoid using the same text as the publisher

      And how do you do that without using humans and how do you deal the the prompt claims that your versions are derivative works of the newspaper valuable content.

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    • icon
      Mike Masnick (profile), 11 Jun 2018 @ 10:16pm

      Re: Isn't it really simpler than the article implies?

      If I'm reading the proposals correctly, it's a licencing requirement, not for any link, but only for links that quote without permission ("snippets").

      The problem is that in the directive, there is no minimum length determined for snippets -- and some are arguing that merely a single word will count as a snippet -- and that it INCLUDES THE URL.

      That's why it's more than a snippet tax. It's a link tax.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Jun 2018 @ 4:38am

    The funniest bit

    *"Publishers recognise that search and social media platforms are important partners for news organisations and that their traffic brings benefits, although not on the exaggerated scale claimed by some."*

    Everybody, including the publishers claiming this, know that if a business is not on Google and Facebook, it might as well not even exist.

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  • icon
    DB (profile), 10 Jun 2018 @ 12:25pm

    The middle game here is obvious.

    With a link tax, Google (and others) will need to negotiate for an explicit license. Perhaps paying a trivial amount to remain strictly legal.

    A few print publications will 'break ranks' and privately make a deal. They will be the only ones featured. The others will essentially disappear online.

    After a few months of massive market share loss, the hold-outs will realize their weak position. They'll rush to make similar agreements. But now they'll have lost their regular audience, and be in a poor negotiating position. The early might be able to negotiate free links, but then Google et al will figure out they can charge. Perhaps not on an explicit money-for-click basis, but it's easy to negotiate a "comprehensive" agreement that has the same effect.

    The only publishers that should have been pushing for this rule are ones that already have deals in place and want to undermine their greedy direct competitors.

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    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 10 Jun 2018 @ 1:53pm

      "This time, THIS time we'll get them!"

      That is almost exactly what happened when germany tried it. They demanded to be paid for snippets. Google declined and instead removed the snippets. After whining about how vindictive and unfair Google was being they ended up caving and offering Google a free license to include snippets.

      End result: They were right where they started, and the law they meant to use to extort money from Google screwed over everyone but Google.

      If the legislators try to go the Germany route then what you describe will likely happen, where the greedy ones will quickly find that those that aren't suffering from short-sighted greed will be getting all the traffic, while they get none.

      If they try the Spain route(where charging for links/snippets is not just something they can do, but must do), then everyone will soon find their traffic plummeting and they'll either try to double-down by insisting that Google simply must pay for the content it's no longer using(because them being paid is a 'right' to them at the same level as being able to breathe), try to argue that the fact that they shot themselves in their collective feet is proof positive that Google has an unfair position in the market, scramble to repeal the law, keep it in place because while it hurts the larger players it really screws over the smaller groups competing with them, or a mix of the above.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Jun 2018 @ 2:22pm

    And this is what a platforms/search engine driven debate and rhetoric looks like. Main used words: "bullshit", "fucked-up" and "traffic". Google or any other content aggregator does not exist without content. Of course, when you create content, you realise how hard it is and you try to aggregate, as this article shows. For full disclosure, this is written by someone who works for platforms. The extremist tone and the constant swearing is quite telling of how hard it is to create content. Quality content, that is. What I would love indeed is if Google plays the public utility card, to be regulated as a public utility. That is why they have overgrown everyone: they have no laws to abide upon. They only invest in developing technology, that they pretty promise they will use for good. They get paid via advertising. And being the sole distributer of content, bref the shop where everyone goes to find what they need, they decide the conditions. Now imagine an empty shop.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 10 Jun 2018 @ 3:05pm

      Re:

      And being the sole distributer of content, bref the shop where everyone goes to find what they need, they decide the conditions. Now imagine an empty shop.

      Google only distributes the content on the self publishing platforms that they provide to people.

      What you need to consider is that Without Google, how does anybody find your work?

      Note that the people who make it via the traditional publishers are few and far between, as for every one that they selected, hundreds languished in the slush piles because their submission was never looked at.

      The Internet has enabled many more creators to find an audience, and some of those go on to become full time creators, but that can take four or five years of work, mainly using self publishing and the various social media platforms to interact with and build the audience from which those prepared to support a creator via patronage will come.

      Making your way as a creator has a little to do with the works you create, and a lot to do with your ability to create and keep an audience.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Jun 2018 @ 1:15am

    Companies who i find participate in this kind of behaviour or behaviour i generally frown upon, for a start, i consiously avoid, (wondering if they'll try to ban site addresses/names in search results for random click wage)

    The ironic thing is, a company is more likely to have my neutrality by NOT doing things that single them out, they have no one else to blame but themselves when they actively do the thing that results in bad opinions.

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


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