Germany Aims to Kick Google to the Curb for News Links

Wednesday, 07 Nov 2012 07:55 AM

By Peter Moses

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The days of free news on the Internet might go the way of the dinosaur, as Germany leads a European movement to allow newspaper publishers to charge Internet search engines fees for showing links to their articles — a move search leader Google charges could lead to news blackouts on computers, tablets and smart phones.

“The [German] law would hit every Internet user in the country as searching for and finding information will be severely disrupted,” Google said, according to the Financial Times. “This kind of interference with the Internet is not what the system is about and is unprecedented globally.”

The move is designed for the most part to put money back in the pocket of the news organizations whose stories populate the Internet, robbing Google of a cash cow.

Editor's Note: The Truth About the Economy — Government Documents Lead to Eerie Conclusion

The new law is expected to be debated in the German Bundestag later this month and could result in publishers cutting off news aggregators and search engines like Google and Bing from publishing links to stories from the actual news sites if they don’t pay royalties.

Günter Krings, a senior lawmaker in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union party, calls the initiative the “little brother” of copyright law. “Just like that which protects the rights of a songwriter or music company, ancillary copyright levels the playing field between print publishers and search engines and aggregators,” he told the Times.

It is yet unclear whether Google or other search engines will comply and pay for linking to news articles. Lawmakers in both France and Italy are studying the German model and have threatened to create laws of their own to match the German template.

Already in Germany YouTube users encounter roadblocks from Gema, the national songwriters rights society, which has had a long drawn-out battle with Google over right fees for music. Many songs available for free elsewhere are blocked in Germany.

“Countries around the world are moving fast to enact forward-looking, 21st-century copyright rules that encourage innovation, creativity and economic growth,” said Simon Morrison, public policy manager at Google, told The New York Times. “We hope to work with publishers in France and Germany to achieve the same goal.”

Current U.S. copyright “fair use” provision of the copyright law allows short quoted citations of printed material.

About 150 newspapers in Brazil pulled out of Google News completely. In Belgium, publishers required Google to stop running their stories in Google News, but keep it in the search engine.

Editor's Note: The Truth About the Economy — Government Documents Lead to Eerie Conclusion

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