Google May Find Itself In A Pickle As Berlin’s Cabinet Approves For A New Web Copyright Law
Do you remember Google’s news section? Well, keep that in mind because Chancellor Angela Merkel wants the search engine, along with others, to pay for every bit of reproduced content from news web portals.
Google News makes quite the income out of hot reports taken from major news websites such as the CNN, BBC, New York Times, and so on. Angela Merkel’s cabinet agreed on Wednesday on a draft that would force the search engine and other aggregators to pay a fee for every bit of information taken from other sources, even tiny snippets. If she succeeds with her plan, Google may find itself in trouble, at least in Germany.
“Publishers should be better protected on the Internet,” a statement posted on Germany’s Justice Ministry official website and made by Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger reads.
“They will now receive a tailor-made copyright law for their online presence.”
The legislation is basically trying to financially help German news websites by forcing Google to share their profits. Several publishing houses in Germany, headed by media giant Axel Springer, argued that aggregator sites profit from the work of others. Merkel’s coalition government has been working on this draft since 2009.
“Our children learn that, if they want something, they have to ask first,” Bild wrote on Thursday.
“That is something that Google and co. should do as well. Those who use the work of others must accept a price tag.”
Google’s reaction was to harshly criticize the draft, obviously. Furthermore, important figures from the political arena (read the center-left Social Democrats and the Greens) also disagreed with Angela Merkel’s draft, claiming that it would stifle with information’s freedom on the web. Germany’s Pirate Party also saw the draft as an insult to web’s freedom:
“There are no technical, legal or economic reasons for this law, which puts the brakes on innovation,” said Bruno Kramm, copyright law expert within the Pirate Party.
Nevertheless, private bloggers, foundations and certain companies would not fall under the law, as it’s been designed only for those who “systematically collect” snippets from websites.
The draft law clearly states that it “should not be misunderstood as a protection offered by policy makers for an old-fashioned, obsolete business model.” However, its critics believe the exact opposite.
And they may be right since the business of making money out of advertising is not as fruitful as some probably consider. As such, charging money from Google and other aggregators wouldn’t change the financial situation in the advertising arena.
But things are not settled yet, at least not until the German Parliament decides whether the law should pass or not.