Google “Tax”: are the German publishers inching closer to a victory?

30 Jan, 2013



While Google is negotiating with the French publishers about paying a licensing fee for indexing their content with small snippets of text, a German law about ancillary copyright is getting a second reading today. It is backed by the three majority parties and it was part of the coalition agreement, so there’s a good chance that it will pass in some form.

Big publishers like Axel Springer (Die Welt and Bild) are also supporting the law.

Essentially, the law would require search engines like Google to pay publishers for including short snippets of articles via a licensing agreement. According to Google, a host of other services like Twitter and Facebook and also blogging startups would also be targeted.  Google, of course, is fighting the law, claiming that the current wording of the law might even include the use of hyperlinks.

Christoph Keese, a spokesman for Axel Springer denies that the law will hurt the right to link or quote:

What this reform does is very simple: It establishes on opt-in model for commercial copies of content and parts of content. This will lead to license agreements between publishers and aggregators.

He also says the terms of the licensing agreements would be ‘reasonable’ so that no startups would be hurt.

According to Frederic Filloux, Google Europe was close to an agreement with the French publishers to pay them about € 70 million per year for indexing their content – as long as it wasn’t termed a licensing agreement’. François Hollande gave Google and the publishers until the end of January to reach an agreement. Otherwise, he said, he would push for a ‘Google Tax’.

via TechCrunch, photo: Horia Varlan, Flickr

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Raf Weverbergh

Editor of whiteboard. Raf Weverbergh was a magazine journalist whose work appeared in magazines like Rolling Stone, Playboy, Mail on Sunday, Publico and South China Morning Post. He is the co-founder of FINN, a corporate communications agency where he advises startups and multinationals on their PR and Mustr, the easiest media database for PR professionals. You can contact him on Twitter, Linkedin or Skype (rafweverbergh).

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